What Kind of Scan Do They Do for Kidney Stones?
Do you have severe sharp pain in your abdomen accompanied by a burning sensation while urinating? And after surfing the internet, you predict it is a kidney stone that needs medical help? Are you planning to see a doctor? Also, are you wondering what kind of scan they do for kidney stones?
Well, there are multiple imaging tests today that can accurately detect kidney stones, and your doctor may suggest either of them. Your doctor may recommend an X-Ray, Computed Tomography (CT) scan, or an Ultrasound. Sometimes, your doctor may even recommend an MRI to detect kidney stones, although such a situation is rare.
The recommendation by the doctor shall depend on multiple factors, such as –
- How fast your doctor wants the report,
- Whether your doctor wants a detailed character analysis of the kidney stones,
- Whether you are pregnant or have some allergies,
- If a previous test report is inconclusive, and so forth!
Now if you want a deeper insight into the types of scans your doctor may recommend for diagnosing a kidney stone, sit back and read below.
Diagnosis of Kidney Stones with X-Ray
At the preliminary stage, your doctor may recommend an X-ray, or rather an abdominal X-ray, to trace kidney stones if any. This imaging test is the process by which electromagnetic radiation beams generate internal images of your body. And herein, your kidney, ureter, and bladder! It is a fast and non-invasive process to trace kidney stones.
An X-ray can reveal the size of a large kidney stone and its exact location. It can also show how many stones lay present in your kidney. However, an X-Ray cannot detect smaller kidney stones like that of uric acid! It is why an x-ray gets less frequently used than a CT scan or an ultrasound.
Besides, the exposure to radiation during this scan may not suit many patients, and doctors, therefore, may opt for another. Yet again, an X-ray is a salient method doctors pursue to monitor the size change of kidney stones during a treatment course. Your doctor may even use an X-ray to supervise and regulate a stone removal surgery.
CT Scans for Diagnosing Kidney Stones: The Gold Standard!
Medical experts and professionals consider a CT scan the gold standard for diagnosing Kidney stones as it can generate a more detailed picture of your kidneys. The scanning process is almost the same as an X-Ray. In fact, a CT scan involves multiple X-Ray beams to take pictures of your kidneys from different angles.
A CT scan can help doctors detect smaller kidney stones and locate their positions, shapes, and other characteristics. This process is also non-invasive and quick, but your doctor typically won’t order this test for pregnant women or children because it encompasses radiation exposure and has risks of further health complications.
Your doctor may order an abdominal and pelvic CT scan with or without contrast. Here, the contrast material can help extract a clear and more detailed image of your kidneys. However, according to research, a non-contrast spiral CT scan is nearly 95% accurate in diagnosing stones. As per another study, a non-contrast CT scan holds around 98% accuracy in examining whether the kidney stones have passed out!
Diagnosing Kidney Stones via Ultrasound
As you already know by now that when you have allergies or are pregnant, your doctor won’t order a CT scan or X-ray. So, When it comes to the question of what can do they do for kidney stones, the answer is ultrasound. It is typically a safe, non-invasive, and radiation-less method that uses sound waves to generate a detailed image of your kidneys.
Undoubtedly, an ultrasound can significantly detect kidney stones because of its technological advances today. It can trace larger and smaller stones, their shape, position, and other specificities. According to research, an ultrasound constitutes an 84% accuracy rate in assessing kidney stones. But, many studies also state that the capability of determining the exact stone size is lower in the case of ultrasound.
Sometimes, doctors may opt for a color doppler ultrasound and sometimes a B-mode ultrasound, depending on what characteristics they want to find. However, there lay instances where an ultrasound fails to give a vivid report, and doctors inevitably opt for a second scan that stands more accurate.
MRI for Diagnosing Kidney Stones
MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is another imaging test modality your doctor may use to detect kidney stones, even though the possibility is less. Doctors go for a kidney MRI when the ultrasound results for pregnant women, allergic patients, or children bring ambiguity. An MRI is neither invasive nor does it involves radiation.
During an MRI, magnetic fields and radio waves lay used to create images of your internal organs. And herein your kidneys! It gives a scope to fetch 3D imaging of your kidneys and detect stones of different compositions. As per one of the latest research, an MRI entails 98% accuracy in diagnosing patients with no kidney stones and 82% accuracy in diagnosing Kidney stones.
However, an MRI is too expensive and not available everywhere. It takes a longer time to do the scan and is not suitable for emergencies. In fact, doctors do not recommend MRI to people with metallic implants in their body, be it a cochlear ear implant, aneurysm clip, or pacemaker. It is because the magnetic field used in the scanning process can receive a false signal from these implants and reflect an inaccurate result.
So, now that you know what can do they do for kidney stones in the healthcare centers, I hope you can feel a little less scared and consult your doctor. Avoiding the symptoms of kidney stones can bring setbacks to your life and create more health issues shortly. On the other hand, early detection of kidney stones can help your doctor to start the treatment early and rule them out, leaving no room for complications.
Are you ready?