Renal Ultrasound (Kidney Ultrasound) for Children

A renal ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create images of your child’s kidneys, bladder and ureters (tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder). These images can help to diagnose problems with your child’s urinary system.

Remarkable care for kids

  • Specialized kidney care for children: The pediatric nephrology program at Rush University Children’s Hospital includes pediatric nephrologists, surgeons and urologists — doctors with specialized expertise in treating children with kidney and urinary tract disorders.
  • Personalized pediatric services: Rush University Children’s Hospital offers kidney-related services specifically tailored for children, such as the pediatric kidney transplant program.
  • Family-centered care: Family-centered care is the heart of Rush University Children’s Hospital. Your child’s care team will involve you in all aspects of your child’s care at Rush.

What is a renal ultrasound for kids?

A renal ultrasound is sometimes called a kidney ultrasound or sonogram. This noninvasive exam does not have any risks or side effects. Unlike an X-ray, ultrasound does not expose your child to radiation.

This test can help diagnose if there is a problem with your child’s urinary system. Ultrasound images can show the following:

  • Abnormalities of the kidney tissue, including tumors or cysts
  • Signs of injury or trauma
  • Swelling or blockage within the urinary tract
  • Kidney stones (small clumps of minerals or salts)
  • Abnormal  anatomy of the kidney and urinary tract
  • Complications of a urinary tract infection

What happens during a renal ultrasound?

  1. Your child will lie face up on an exam table. The ultrasound technician will spread a warm gel on your child’s lower abdomen. This gel helps the soundwaves travel through the body to make clearer images.
  2. The ultrasound technician will glide an electronic wand, called a transducer, over the gel on your child’s belly. Your child will need to hold still at certain times so that the technician can get a clear image of a certain area. During the test, you may need to help your child move into a different position or hold still when the technician requests.
  3. When the test is finished, you or the technician will wipe the gel off your child’s skin.

The test takes about half an hour to complete. Afterward, your child’s care team will review the images, discuss the results with you, and start working on a treatment plan to address any problems were found during the exam.