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A urogram is a radiograph, or X-ray image, of the urinary tract, and the process of making one is known as urography. It is used in diagnostic testing for various conditions related to the urinary tract and is also used to follow up on treatment for conditions like kidney stones and cancers of the urinary tract. As a general rule, urography is an outpatient procedure.
When patients arrive at the X-ray department for a urography procedure, they are injected with a contrast medium that will help define the structures of the urinary tract on the X-ray. Usually, it takes at least half an hour for the contrast medium to take effect, and the patient may feel slightly hot as the dye makes its way down to the kidneys. Next, the patient is X-rayed, and the resulting image is interpreted by a radiologist, pathologist, or urologist.
Some people have allergic reactions to the contrast medium, and patients may be asked to stay for a brief period of time after the procedure to ensure that if an allergic reaction does occur, treatment can be offered promptly. The contrast medium can also cause the urine to look a bit peculiar for a day or so, which is something for the patient to be aware of when urinating after a procedure.
In addition to using X-rays for urograms, it is also possible to use Computed Tomography (CT) machines. A CT urogram is often of better quality than one produced with X-ray, and it sometimes reduces exposure to radiation for the patient. Not all hospitals offer this option, however, and it can be more expensive than a traditional one.
Urograms can reveal blockages such as kidney stones, congenital abnormalities, and cancers of the urinary tract. If something unexpected or abnormal is identified, the patient may need follow up tests, such as biopsies, to determine the nature of condition and to help determine what the next step should be. After treatment for conditions like kidney stones, it is common to request a urogram to ensure that the all of the stones have passed.
When this test is requested, patients should plan to set aside at least an hour and a half of time for the procedure. As a general rule, people are perfectly capable of driving or walking afterwards, so no escort is necessary. It can take several days to weeks to get results, especially in a small facility where the image may need to be sent out for interpretation. The medical professional who ordered the test will usually call the patient as soon as the results are in to discuss them.