A renal artery or mesenteric artery ultrasound is used to assess blood flow to the kidneys, bowel and other organs in the abdomen.
The main vessels targeted are renal arteries, celiac axis and SMA (Superior Mesenteric Artery). Disruption of blood flow in these vessels can cause a variety of issues, most commonly hypertension, change to kidney function, pain and ischaemic effects on organs. Most commonly other imaging is used to assess these structures including CT, MRI and Angiography. Ultrasound can provide benefit to patients who are very young, allergic to contrast or have poor kidney function as it does not require the use of contrast (“xray dye”) and does not use ionising radiation.
About this Ultrasound
Your examination will be performed by a sonographer. Upon being taken into the examination room the sonographer will introduce themselves, confirm your identity and examination. A clear gel is applied to the skin over the area to be examined. The ultrasound probe is then moved over the skin surface to study the structures below. During the study you will be asked to hold your breath and move into certain positions to allow visualisation of the aorta and associated vessels. Measurements will be taken along the length of the vessels. During this exam it is common to use a specialised form of ultrasound assessment called Doppler. This technology allows assessment of aspects of blood flow. During Doppler interrogation you may hear some whooshing noises which are a representation of the blood flow or pulse.
Once your examination is completed a radiologist (specialist medical doctor) will review the sonographer’s images, and provide a written report for your doctor. The Radiologist may sometimes attend your examination to personally examine you and discuss your issues.
Before your Scan
You are required to fast for 8 hours prior to the exam; this means nothing to eat or drink. Please also refrain from smoking. If you are taking medication then this can be done with a small amount of water. If possible it is best to book your appointment first thing in the morning after an overnight fast. By fasting you reduce the amount of gas present in your abdomen and allow better visualization of the aorta. In the case of renal arteries, while we require you not to eat we may sometimes ask that you remain hydrated and fill your bladder by drinking 1 Litre of water, finishing one hour prior to the exam. This will depend upon the reason why your ultrasound is being performed. Preparation will be relayed to you at the time of making your appointment.
Diabetic patients should advise booking staff at the time of making an appointment so that the exam can fit in with your dietary requirements.
It is a good idea to wear clothing that allows easy access to the area that is being imaged, two piece clothing is ideal (separate upper/lower garments).
Approximately 30 – 60 minutes.