Nuclear Medicine Renal Scan

Authors: Ms Merrin Angwin*
                            Dr Dee Nandurkar *

What are the prerequisites for having a renal scan done?

  • Patients for a captopril renogram, when investigating for RAS or renovascular hypertension will need to have their ACE inhibitors discontinued for 4-7 days prior to study.
  • Renal ultrasound may be required prior to nuclear medicine renal scan if there is suspicion of: duplex or dilated collecting systems, or polycystic kidney disease.
  • If the patient has renal impairment, a nuclear medicine MAG3 renal scan may be preferred to DTPA. Please see below.

What are the absolute contraindications for a renal scan?

  • Pregnancy

What are the relative contraindications for a renal scan?

  • Patient has not discontinued ACE inhibitors if the scan is being performed to exclude renal artery stenosis (RAS).
  • Breast feeding: If the patient is breast feeding, please contact the nuclear medicine department in regards to proceeding with the scan. Some of the pharmaceuticals that are used in nuclear medicine studies can pass into the mother’s milk and subsequently the child. The mother may be asked to discontinue breast feeding for a short time after the scan and she will need to express from both breasts. Please discuss with the nuclear medicine physician or technologist when feeding can resume and any contact precautions required.
  • Obesity: Please contact the nuclear medicine department if the patient you are referring is significantly overweight or obese. This is because there are weight limits for the scanning table.
  • Renal impairment: MAG3 may be more appropriate than DTPA. MAG3 has a higher extraction fraction than DTPA and is therefore a better diagnostic agent than DTPA, particularly in neonates, patients with impaired function or suspected obstruction. There are no different preparation requirements or side effects. The nuclear medicine physician will make this decision.

What are the adverse effects of a renal scan?

There are no known associated risks; however, the patient will be receiving a dose of radiation. See radiation risk of medical imaging for adults and children.

Are there alternative imaging tests, interventions or surgical procedures to a renal scan?

Nuclear medicine scanning is accepted as the most frequently used imaging method of renal function assessment.

*The author has no conflict of interest with this topic.

Page last modified on 26/7/2017.

Related articles