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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Further tests for kidney cancer

At the hospital the doctor will ask you about your symptoms and general health. You will also be asked if you have any other health problems. The doctor will examine you physically and arrange for some of the following tests:

IVU or IVP (intravenous urogram)

This test shows up anything unusual in the kidneys or urinary system. It is done in the hospital x-ray department and takes about an hour.

A dye is injected into a vein in your arm, and travels through the bloodstream to the kidneys. The doctor can watch on a screen how the dye passes through the kidneys and can pick up any problems.

The dye will probably make you feel hot and flushed for a few minutes but this feeling goes away after a short time.

Ultrasound scan

This test can be very helpful in diagnosing cancer of the kidney. It uses sound waves to build up a picture of the inside of the tummy (abdomen) including the kidneys. It is a painless test and only takes a few minutes. Once you are lying comfortably on your back, a gel is spread onto your abdomen. A small device, which produces sound waves, is rubbed over the area. The echoes are turned into a picture by a computer.

Ultrasound can be used to look for changes in the shape of the kidneys, which may suggest there is a cyst or tumour. It can also measure the size and position of a cancer.

CT scan

A CT (computerised tomography) scan takes a series of x-rays and puts these together to give a 3-D picture of the inside of your body. The scan is painless and takes between 10 and 30 minutes. It may be used to look for changes in the kidneys, to identify the exact site of the tumour, or to check for any spread of the disease. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before your appointment.

Most people who have a CT scan are given a drink or injection of dye before the scan. This helps the doctor to see particular areas more clearly. People who are allergic to iodine or have asthma may be at higher risk of reacting to the dye. So, if you are allergic to iodine or have asthma, tell the doctor and the person doing the test before you have the injection or drink. After having the injection, most people feel hot and flushed but this only lasts for a few minutes. You will probably be able to go home as soon as the scan is over.


This test may be done if you have blood in your urine. It doesn’t look at the kidneys but is used to check the bladder lining for signs of bleeding. It is usually done under local anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes. A small, flexible, fibre-optic tube with a light at the end (cystoscope) is passed into the tube that leads to the bladder (urethra). This allows the doctor to look at the whole lining of the bladder and urethra.

You may have some soreness or mild pain when you pass urine for the first time after the test. However, there are not usually any other effects.

MRI scan

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is similar to a CT scan but uses magnetism instead of x-rays to build up a detailed picture of areas of your body.

Having an MRI scan
Having an MRI scan

During the test you will be asked to lie very still on a couch inside a long tube for about 30 minutes. It is painless but can be slightly uncomfortable, and some people feel a bit claustrophobic during the scan. It is also noisy, but you will be given earplugs or headphones. You may be able to take someone with you into the room to keep you company.

The scanner is a very powerful magnet, so you should remove any metal belongings before entering the room. People who have heart monitors, pacemakers or certain metallic surgical clips cannot have an MRI because of the magnetic fields.

Some people are given an injection of dye into a vein in the arm to show the kidneys better.

Image-guided biopsy

This may be done if you need to have a sample of tissue – a biopsy – taken from the kidney. A doctor uses an ultrasound or CT scanner to guide them to the area of kidney where the biopsy will be taken. This is known as an ultrasound- or CT-guided biopsy.

Before the scan, a local anaesthetic is injected to numb the area over the kidney. The kidney is then scanned to produce pictures on a screen. This helps the doctor to accurately guide a needle through the skin and into the kidney. The doctor draws a small sample of tissue into the needle before removing it. This sample will be sent to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope. You may need to stay in hospital for a few hours (or overnight) after this procedure.

Blood tests

You will usually have blood tests taken to assess your general health.

Chest x-ray

X-rays are often taken to check the health of your heart and lungs.

Waiting for your test results

It will probably take several days for the results of your tests to be ready, and this waiting period will obviously be an anxious time for you. It may help if you can talk things over with a relative or close friend. You could also contact one of the support organisations.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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