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Renal Cortical Scan

What is a Renal Cortical Scan?

A renal cortical scan is a test that can help the doctor find out if your child's kidneys are infected or injured. Special pictures are taken after a medicine is injected into a vein. The pictures show the medicine in the kidneys.

Before the Test

Before coming to the hospital, read the explanation that follows and explain to your child what will happen during the test. For young children, use simple words and explain only shortly before the test.

Children 4 years and under may require sedation for their procedure. You will be given certain eating and drinking restrictions necessary to complete the exam. The day of the exam a parent or guardian needs to be present to sign informed consent for sedation.

If your child is an infant, it is helpful to bring along a bottle of formula or juice for after the test. It is also recommended that you bring a pacifier, blanket or special toy to help calm your child.

For older children, it is helpful to bring a book or toy to play with while waiting and a favorite video to watch or music to listen to during the test. It is helpful to have another caregiver stay with your child's siblings during the pictures.

During the Test

A technologist will place a small needle into a vein in your child's hand or foot -- this is called an IV. The needle stick hurts for just a moment. When the needle is in, the medicine is injected into a vein and the needle is removed. After this, there is a 120-minute wait before the test is continued. You may go for a walk during this wait.

After the 120 minute wait, your child will lie on a soft table while a special camera is used to take pictures from above and below the child. It will take between 35 and 90 minutes to take all of the pictures. During this time the camera will not touch or hurt your child. You will stay with your child during the test.

If sedation medicine is needed so that your child can hold still for the pictures, a nurse or doctor will explain it to you.

After the Test

The medicine leaves your child’s body when he / she urinates. Your child should drink plenty of fluids and urinate often after the test to help clear the medicine from his / her body. The medicine should be completely out of your child's body within two days..

As always, you and your child should wash your hands after the child urinates or when handling urine-soaked diapers or sheets.

After the test, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. If your child had sedation medicine, a nurse will give you additional instructions concerning activities and meals.

Results of the test will be sent to your child's doctor who will contact you about the results.

Last Updated 06/2022

Reviewed By J. McLean
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