Examinations of the kidneys and urinary tract: imaging methods and cystoscopy

Ultrasound (sonography) is a procedure that is very easy to carry out and is not stressful for the patient, with which the kidneys, bladder and  prostate  can be assessed very well. It allows statements to be made about the shape, size and structure of the organs and reveals changes such as  cysts , stones and tumors. If it is necessary to take a tissue sample (e.g. if there is a suspicion of nephritis or a tumour), it is easier to locate the suspicious area under ultrasound control.

Other imaging procedures

Other imaging methods are usually reserved for more specific questions:

  • Urography : X-ray examination in which the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra are visualized using contrast material. This can either be injected into a vein ( excretory urography ) or introduced backwards via a catheter inserted through the urethra into the bladder directly into the urinary system ( retrograde pyelography ). First, a blank cardioid image is used as the starting  image made, i.e. the lower abdomen X-rayed without contrast medium. The kidneys can be seen as shadows, so they already allow conclusions to be drawn about their shape, position and size. Also calcareous stones are recognizable. After the contrast medium has been introduced, the recordings are repeated several times at specific time intervals. These examinations are carried out, for example, in the case of unclear anatomical conditions such as malformations or obstructions to drainage, but also in the case of urinary retention, suspected tumors, frequent inflammation of the renal pelvis and recurring  kidney pain  .
  • Computed tomography and  magnetic resonance imaging  are mainly used when the extent of a tumor that has been diagnosed, for example, by ultrasound, is to be assessed. These procedures have the advantage that small daughter tumors can also be detected in other organs. Injuries are also assessed using CT and MRI.
  • The renal vessels can be visualized with  angiography  , which is why it is used, for example, if calcification is suspected.


During cystoscopy, an endoscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. In this way, the mucous membrane and sphincter muscle of the bladder, urethra and prostate can be assessed from the inside and anatomical anomalies, tumors,  inflammation  or stones can be identified. This procedure is used primarily in the case of unclear blood admixtures in the urine and prostate problems and has the advantage that it can be coupled directly with a tissue removal and a therapeutic intervention.

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