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How are imaging scans used to diagnose urinary system cancers?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Your doctor will use an imaging scan to gain a detailed picture of the organs that make up your urinary system, and this information will help your doctor diagnose urinary system cancer. Imaging scans are painless and usually require you to simply lie on a table or inside a large metal tube. Commonly used imaging technologies include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and positron emission tomography (PET). CT scans use X-rays, contrast dyes, and digital technology to produce detailed images of cross-sections of your kidney, bladder, or other organs. MRI scans use radio waves, magnets, digital technology, and sometimes contrast dyes as well to provide detailed images of your organs. Ultrasound creates images of your organs using sound waves and digital technology. PET scans use a radioactive dye and a specialized camera to detect cancer cells. X-rays that utilize special dyes are also sometimes used. For example, a procedure known as a intravenous pyelogram involves injecting a dye into a vein and then taking an X-ray. The dye makes the organs show up more clearly on an X-ray. If bladder cancer is suspected, a similar procedure known as a retrograde pyelography may be used, which involves injecting a dye into the bladder, ureters, and kidneys through a thin tube and then taking an X-ray.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.