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Urology Care Foundation The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

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Antegrade Pyelography

Antegrade pyelography uses special contrast agent (dye) to produce detailed X-ray pictures of the upper urinary tract (kidney and ureter). It is commonly used to diagnose conditions including hydronephrosis, ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction and obstruction of the ureters.

This test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in a health care provider's office by a radiologist or X-ray technician. The kidneys will initially be examined with an ultrasound probe or a CT scan. After they are located, the overlying skin will be anesthetized and a needle will be passed directly into the kidney. This needle is used to inject dye to outline the renal collection system (part of the urinary tract draining urine between the kidney and bladder) on X-ray images and detect any blockages or obstructions.

While pyelography is considered generally safe, the major risk involves a reaction to the iodine-based dye. Minor reactions include hot flashes, nausea and vomiting. These are usually treated successfully with antihistamines, drugs that reduce the effects of the body's inflammatory compound, histamine. In very rare circumstances, more severe complications — breathing difficulties, low blood pressure, swelling of the mouth or throat and even cardiac arrest — can occur.

There is relatively low radiation exposure during this test. However, a patient who is or may be pregnant should notify their physician prior to this examination, as a fetus is susceptible to the risks associated with radiation.



Reviewed January 2011

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Antegrade Pyelography Glossary
  • anesthetized: Administered an anesthetic.

  • antihistamine: Drug that blocks cell receptors for histamine, either to prevent allergic effects like sneezing and itching or to reduce the rate of certain secretions in the stomach.

  • bladder: The bladder is a thick muscular balloon-shaped pouch in which urine is stored before being discharged through the urethra.

  • CT scan: Also known as computerized tomography, computerized axial tomography or CT scan. A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images of the body. Shows detailed images of any part of the body, including bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

  • fetus: An unborn offspring from the end of the eighth week of conception until birth.

  • gene: The basic unit capable of transmitting characteristics from one generation to the next.

  • histamine: A hormone transmitter involved in local immune response regulating stomach acid production and in allergic reactions.

  • hydronephrosis: Swelling at the top of the ureter usually because something is blocking the urine from flowing into or out of the bladder.

  • hydronephrosis: Swelling of the top of the ureter, usually because something is blocking the urine from flowing into or out of the bladder.

  • hydronephrosis: Swelling at the top of the ureter, usually because something is blocking the urine from flowing into or out of the bladder.

  • inflammatory: Characterized or caused by swelling, redness, heat and/or pain produced in an area of the body as a result of irritation, injury or infection.

  • ions: Electrically charged atoms.

  • kidney: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • kidneys: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • obstruction: something that obstructs, blocks, or closes up with an obstacle

  • pelvic: Relating to, involving or located in or near the pelvis.

  • probe: Small device for measuring and testing.

  • radiation: Also referred to as radiotherapy. X-rays or radioactive substances used in treatment of cancer.

  • radiologist: Doctor specializing in the interpretation of X-rays and other scanning techniques for the diagnosis of disorders.

  • renal: Pertaining to the kidneys.

  • ultrasound: Also referred to as a sonogram. A technique that bounces painless sound waves off organs to create an image of their structure to detect abnormalities.

  • ureter: One of two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • ureteropelvic junction: Also referred to as UPJ. A blockage of a ureter in the region where the ureter enters the pelvis. Most often caused by a kidney stone.

  • ureters: Pair of tubes that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder.

  • ureters: Tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • urinary: Relating to urine.

  • urinary tract: The system that takes wastes from the blood and carries them out of the body in the form of urine. Passageway from the kidneys to the ureters, bladder and urethra.

  • urine: Liquid waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder and expelled from the body through the urethra by the act of urinating (voiding). About 96 percent of which is water and the rest waste products.

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