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What is a renal ultrasound?

I'm an older male (44) who has been having serious problems with urination. I have urinate a lot and it is painful to do so. I've also had intense pains in my side, so my doctor said he wanted to ultrasound my kidneys. What is a kidney ultrasound? Does it raise my risk of infertility or cancer?
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.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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