Treatments and tests

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)

What is an IVP?

An IVP uses X-rays and a special dye to make pictures of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters and bladder).

The special dye is injected into your veins. After the dye is injected, pictures are taken using an X-ray machine. The dye will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless.

Benefits of an IVP

  • Used for diagnosis to show detail of your kidneys, ureters and bladder.
  • Can be used to show how well your kidneys, ureters and bladder are working.

Risks of an IVP

Your doctor knows the risks of having an IVP. Your doctor will consider the risks before recommending you to have an IVP.

IVPs are not recommended for pregnant women.

Possible risks include:

  • Small amount of radiation. The amount of radiation you are exposed to depends on the number of pictures taken.
  • Extremely small chance you could develop cancer in the long term from the radiation.
  • An allergic reaction from the dye. You may have nausea, sneezing, vomiting, itching, hives and dizziness. More serious reactions can occur, but are very rare.
  • Infection at the site of an injection.

If you have any allergies, tell the staff or radiology doctor.

If you are concerned about the risks, talk to your doctor before the examination.


  • Bring your referral letter or request form and all X-rays taken in the last 2 years with you.
  • Leave the X-rays with the radiology staff as the doctor may need to look at them. The radiology staff will tell you when these are ready to be picked up.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing.
  • Leave all jewellery and valuables at home.

Tell your doctor before the IVP

  • If you are or may be pregnant.
  • If you have any allergies and medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or thyroid problems.
  • Any medications you are taking. Some medications cannot be taken before or straight after an IVP.

The day before your IVP

  • You will be given instructions about what you can eat and drink during the day before the test.
  • You may be given a laxative to make sure your bowels are empty.

Just before the IVP

  • You may be asked not to eat or drink anything 6 to 8 hours before the IVP
  • You will be given a gown to wear.
  • You may be asked to remove any metal objects.

What happens during an IVP

Staff will ask you to lie on your back on the X-ray bed. When you are in the correct position, the person taking the X-rays will go behind a screen to take an X-ray before you have any dye injected.

Staff will put a needle into a vein in your hand or arm for the injection of dye. A salt water fluid may be passed through the needle so that it does not become blocked.

Possible side effects of the dye include:

  • You may feel a slight stinging sensation and a warm flushing feeling for a few seconds.
  • You may have a metallic taste in your mouth
  • You may feel like you are wetting your pants, even though you are not.

Sometimes a tight band is placed around your stomach. This can help get better pictures.

You may be asked to go to the toilet and empty your bladder in the middle of having your IVP done. The staff will continue with the IVP after you have been to the toilet.

When the IVP is finished you will be asked to wait while the staff check the pictures.

The IVP takes between 30 minutes and an hour, including the time taken to get you ready on the table.


You have the right to refuse an examination and may do so if you wish. You may be asked to complete a consent form.

When will I get the results?

The amount of time it takes for you to get your results will differ depending on where you get your scans done. The radiology doctor will look at the pictures and write a report. The pictures may be on films or on a CD.

Ask whether you should wait to take the pictures and report with you, or whether they will be sent to your doctor.

Your doctor will need to discuss the report with you. You will need to make an appointment to do this.

After an IVP

You will be able to leave soon after the IVP is finished and can continue with normal activities.

  • Staff will remove the needle in your arm.
  • Staff will give you any special instructions.
  • The dye will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to help get rid of the dye.

Costs of an IVP

For an Australian patient in a public hospital in Western Australia:

  • public patient – no cost to you unless advised otherwise.
  • private patient – costs can be claimed through Medicare and your health insurance provider.

For a patient in a private hospital or private imaging site in Western Australia – ask your doctor or the staff where you are having your test done.

Where to get help

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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