What is Intravenous Pyelography (IVP)?

Intravenous pyelography (IVP) is an x-ray exam that uses contrast dye to outline the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. It provides information about renal function to see how well your system handles fluid waste. This helps your health care team find problems in the urinary system.

The exam is used to diagnose why a patient has blood in their urine or pain in their side or lower back. I can find:

It may also be used as a screening tool or to help guide surgery. It can let your urologist know if other tests are needed to learn what’s going on.

Typically, an x-ray image of the abdomen is taken first, without dye. This helps the radiologist know the best way to position and give the actual test. A full set of kidney images may be done if small kidney stones are suspected.

Then, a contrast dye is injected once through a vein. The amount of dye given is based on the patient's kidney function and body weight. Children get less, and larger people get more. After the contrast dye is in the urinary tract, a series of X-rays are taken. These are taken at specific times, from two to ten minutes apart. These X-rays can show tumors, cysts, stones, or other problems.

The main risk of IVP is a reaction to the contrast dye. A small number of people can have an allergic reaction, which can result in hot flashes, nausea and vomiting. These are treated with anti-allergy drugs. Rarely, more severe reactions (breathing trouble, low blood pressure, swelling of the mouth or throat, and even cardiac arrest) can occur.

Patients with a history of hay fever, asthma or hives are at greater risk. Same is true for people with congestive heart failure, diabetes, or past reactions. Tell your doctor if you have a history of these things, so care is taken to prevent a reaction.

For more information please visit or article on IVP.