Intravenous Pyelography
Novant Health | UVA Health System | IMAGING

Intravenous Pyelography

What is an intravenous pyelography?

We use X-rays to see your kidneys, bladder and urinary tract
Intravenous pyelography (IVP), also called intravenous urography, uses X-rays to produce pictures of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra.

Preparing for an IVP exam

The day before your exam:

  • At 4 p.m., take three Dulcolax tablets with 16 oz. water. You may substitute 2 tbsp. Phospho-Soda or 4 oz. Neoloid for Dulcolax
  • Eat a low-fiber diet: no raw vegetables, fruits, whole wheat bread, cereal, red meat, fried or fatty foods, dairy products, rich desserts or nuts
  • Drink only clear liquids after midnight: water, colas, coffee without cream, tea and apple juice. DO NOT drink milk, orange juice or any juices containing pulp

On the day of your exam, do not drink any liquids beginning two hours before your test.

For your safety

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. Your doctor may decide to postpone the exam or use an alternative exam, such as ultrasound, to reduce the possible risk of exposing your baby to radiation.

This exam requires you to consume a contrast medium. If you have allergies or asthma, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast. Most reactions result in itchiness or hives. If you have asthma and have an allergic reaction to the contrast medium, you may experience an asthma attack. In very rare instances, an allergic reaction may cause swelling in your throat or other areas of your body. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions also increase your risk of reaction to the contrast medium. Tell your technologist or doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms during or after your exam. Our staff and physicians are prepared should any type of emergency situation occur.

What to expect during an IVP exam

Inform the technologist if you have, or think you have, an allergy to contrast medium.

You will wear an X-ray gown and be asked to lie on an X-ray table. The nurse will insert an intravenous (IV) catheter into a vein in your arm or hand. X-ray dye, also called contrast medium, will be injected through the IV.

The dye is filtered through your kidneys and gathers in your bladder. Images are taken immediately after injection, five minutes after injection and 10 minutes after injection. The radiologist will review the images to see if they have captured the right level of detail. If so, you will be taken to a bathroom and asked to empty your bladder.


A radiologist will review your exam images and report the findings to your doctor. Your doctor will then discuss the findings and next steps with you.

This service is offered at: