University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota - Veterinary Medical Center

Special Procedure: Intravenous Urography (IVU)

Your pet is scheduled to have a special procedure. This information page will give you an idea of what is involved in the procedure and what to expect.

What is intravenous urography (IVU)?
Intravenous urography (also referred to as excretory urography [EU] and intravenous pyelography [IVP]) is a radiographic contrast study for evaluation of the kidneys and ureters, including the termination of the ureters at the urinary bladder. This procedure is performed by administering a contrast agent (iodinated compound) in a vein and then obtaining conventional radiographs (x-rays) at multiple time intervals. The kidneys naturally excrete the contrast, which then allows visualization of the kidneys and ureters. The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center uses computed (or digital) radiography to obtain excellent images. In some cases, digital fluoroscopy (real time, continuous, low dose x-rays) is used to image the ureters; this is especially helpful in congenital disorders of the ureters.

Why has intravenous urography been recommended?
The IVU is useful for evaluating the structure of the kidneys and ureters as well as providing a qualitative assessment of kidney function. Indications for this study include evaluating size, shape and location of a kidney that can't be seen on a radiograph (x-ray); evaluating the ureters for obstruction or for abnormal termination (ectopic ureter); or obtaining qualitative information regarding renal function. The results of the IVU will help your veterinarian make a definitive diagnosis and offer you the best options for treating your pet.

Are there any known complications from intravenous urography?
This procedure is generally safe and can be performed in patients with kidney disease, provided that they are not dehydrated. Side effects are rare, with the most common side effect seen being transient retching or vomiting. Rarely, other side effects seen include anaphylactoid reactions, hypotension, contrast-induced renal failure, urticaria, or bronchospasm. If your pet has seizures, cardiac disease, or kidney disease, we may elect to use a different type of contrast.

How should I prepare my pet for IVU?
The intestinal tract must be empty in order for good visualization of the kidneys and ureters and to prevent aspiration of stomach material if your pet experiences the side effect of vomiting. Please withhold food from your pet for 18 hours to ensure that the intestinal tract is empty. Please continue to provide free access to fresh water. Ask your veterinarian for instructions if your pet is on any medications.
Patient preparation will also include cleansing enemas in order to evacuate the colon so that fecal material will not obscure the kidneys and ureters. The technicians will perform this service the morning of the exam. Please do not administer at-home laxatives or enema products purchased over-the-counter for human or other use. Many of these products are not safe for use in dogs and cats.
For this procedure, an intravenous catheter will be placed by the staff at the Veterinary Medical Center. In order to place the intravenous catheter safely and in a sterile manner, a small amount of fur will need to be shaved on a leg.

What should I bring to the appointment?
We will ask your veterinarian to fax us a copy of the medical record so that you do not need to be responsible. However, if your veterinarian has any x-rays that they are unable to mail to us in time for the appointment, we ask that you please bring those to the appointment.

What happens to my pet after the procedure?
Your pet will be hospitalized in our wards following the procedure until discharge. Sedation is not commonly needed for an IVU; however, some animals can be anxious and stressed, and for those, a small dose of sedative may be needed at the start of the study. If you pet needs sedation, your pet will be hospitalized in our wards once he/she can stand and move around safely. Your pet will be able to be discharged after 3:00 pm. You will be notified as to when you may pick up your pet.

How will I learn the results of the IVU?
The radiologist who performed your pet's procedure will complete a report which will be faxed to your referring veterinarian. Your referring veterinarian will call you to discuss the results of this procedure.