What to Expect from Your Renal Ultrasound

Jan 11, 2024
Title What to Expect from Your Renal Ultrasound
Anytime you need a medical test you’re unfamiliar with, it’s reasonable to feel a bit nervous. This post discusses a common imaging test, a renal ultrasound. We discuss why your doctor may request it and what you should expect.

Imaging tests help your doctor better understand your health, provide evidence of emerging issues, or monitor the progression of various conditions. Many different types of imaging technology exist. In this post, we discuss one particular type of imaging, a renal ultrasound. 

At Northeast Florida Internal Medicine, Elyssa Blissenback, MD, Lea-Anne Griffis, APRN, and Sara Haugen, APRN, are happy to offer our patients diagnostic testing in our office. Having diagnostic tests performed here means less hassle for you and faster results. One of the tests we offer is a renal ultrasound, which is a test to diagnose problems or monitor the function of your kidneys. 

Your kidneys

You have two kidneys located on your back, just below your rib cage on either side of your spine. Your kidneys function like a filter, removing waste and extra water from your blood in the form of urine. Roughly a half cup of blood moves through your kidneys every minute, and the filtered urine is stored in your bladder.

The filtering action of your kidneys is crucial to maintaining a balance of water, salts, and minerals in your blood so that your body can work properly. Your kidneys also produce hormones affecting blood pressure, red blood cell count, and bone strength. 

Some people have abnormalities in their kidneys' size, shape, or location. Infection can damage your kidneys, and kidney stones, cysts, or tumors can block your kidneys and prevent them from draining as they should. 


An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images. The person who administers your ultrasound holds a tool called a transducer against your skin. The transducer sends out sound waves that are at a frequency humans can’t hear. 

As the sound waves encounter the structures inside your body, they bounce and return to the transducer — think of how an echo returns to your ears. The transducer processes the sound waves, and a computer program turns them into images. 

In order to help the sound waves travel through your body, your imaging technician applies a thick gel to your skin. This allows the transducer to slide across your skin smoothly as well as improves the way the sound waves move. 

Renal ultrasound

A renal ultrasound can be used to assess the size, shape, and location of your kidneys, how your blood flows through your kidneys, and to show any blockages such as stones, cysts, or tumors.

You don’t need to do anything special to prepare for a renal ultrasound, and it’s painless. You lie on a table, and your technician will ensure you’re laying so they can correctly position the transducer. They then apply the gel to your skin and move the transducer in order to create the images of your kidneys.

Once the technician is finished, they wipe away the gel. It dries very quickly and won’t stain your clothes. Then you’re free to go. You won’t need time to recover or have any restrictions to your activity. 

If you’re scheduled for a renal ultrasound and have specific questions, schedule an appointment at Northeast Florida Internal Medicine to talk to your provider. We’re always happy to discuss the details of your care and answer any questions you may have.