A renal ultrasound
is a test that uses sound waves to examine the kidneys, ureters (tubes connecting your kidneys to your bladder) and surrounding structures. It is the same type of technology that is used to examine a fetus during pregnancy (ie, a sonogram). Studies have not shown an increased risk of infertility or cancer related to the use of ultrasound imaging, and in fact this is a major advantage of using ultrasound over other forms of imaging (such as CT scans, which do use radiation and increase the risk of developing cancer).
Your physician most likely ordered this test to obtain more information regarding the function of your kidneys, ureter and bladder. Dilation of the ureters and kidneys may be a sign of obstruction of urinary flow from a dysfunctional bladder or enlarged prostate. If you are having pains in your side, then your physician may suspect a kidney stone, which can also cause dilation of the ureter or collecting system within the kidney. Chronic medical diseases such as high blood pressure
can also cause changes seen on ultrasound, such as a thinning of the outside of the kidney called the renal cortex.