Kidney and urinary tract examinations: imaging and bladder mirroring

Ultrasound (ultrasonography) is a fairly straightforward procedure that is uncomplicated to the patient and enables the kidney, bladder and prostate to be assessed very well. It allows statements about the shape, size and structure of organs and reveals changes such as cysts, stones and tumors. If it is necessary to take a tissue sample (eg in the case of suspected renal cell inflammation or a tumor), it is easier to control the suspicious site under ultrasound control.

Further imaging techniques

Other imaging techniques are usually reserved for more specific questions:

  • Urography: X-ray examination in which kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra are visualized by means of contrast media. This can either be injected into the vein (excretory urography) or backward via a catheter inserted through the urethra into the urinary bladder directly into the urinary system (retrograde pyelography). Initially, a kidney-empty image is taken as the initial image, ie the lower abdominal cavity is x-rayed without contrast medium. The kidneys are seen as shadows, so already allow conclusions about shape, location and size. Also calcareous stones are recognizable. After introducing the contrast agent, the images are repeated several times at certain intervals. These examinations are carried out, for example, in unclear anatomical conditions such as malformations or outflow obstructions, but also in urinary retention, suspicion of a tumor, frequent pyelonephritis and recurrent kidney pain.
  • Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are used especially when the extent of a tumor is to be assessed, which has been diagnosed, for example, by ultrasound. These methods have the advantage that one can recognize even small secondary tumors in other organs. Injuries are also assessed using CT and MRI.
  • With angiography, the renal vessels can be represented, which is why it is used, for example, in suspected calcification.


In cystoscopy, an endoscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Thus, the mucous membrane and sphincter of the bladder, urethra and prostate can be assessed from the inside and anatomical anomalies, tumors, inflammation or stones can be detected. This method is mainly used for unclear urine and prostate blood and has the advantage that it can be directly coupled with tissue sampling and therapeutic intervention.

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