Kidney and bladder ultrasound scan

Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of an area of the body. 

This is a widely used diagnostic test to examine the kidneys, ureters and bladder, and sometimes the prostate too. A kidney and bladder ultrasound is also known as a urinary tract ultrasound.

A kidney and bladder ultrasound scan can help to find the cause of a problem and can also be used to monitor an existing condition. 

The ultrasound is carried out by a sonographer or radiologist, both are trained professionals in this type of scan. 

How to prepare

You will need a full bladder for your scan. 

  • Please drink at least 500ml of water 30 minutes before your appointment time. 
  • Try not to have a pee (to empty your bladder), or just empty it a little if you are uncomfortable.

You can continue to take any medicines prescribed by your doctor.

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your scan.

If you need a hoist (piece of medical equipment to help lift or move you safely), transport or a translator, please contact the radiology department.


A kidney and bladder ultrasound scan is a very safe procedure with no side effects.

Other treatment options

Depending on your signs and symptoms, there may be other tests available such as a CT scan or an MRI scan. If there is a more suitable examination we will contact your doctor. It may be necessary to have another type of diagnostic scan as well as your kidney and bladder scan to help with the diagnosis of your problem.

The sonographer or radiologist will ask you if you are happy for the scan to go ahead. This is called verbal consent to check that you are booked for the correct scan. 

If you do not wish to have the scan or are undecided, please tell us. You can ask any questions before, during or after your scan. It is your decision and you can change your mind at any time. However not having the scan may delay your diagnosis as the doctors may not have all of the information that they need. 

You can read more about our consent process.

During the kidney and bladder ultrasound scan

The scan usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes. 

While we try to make sure that appointment times are kept, sometimes emergencies may need to take priority. We will inform you of any delays. Please be patient, but feel free to ask staff if you think you have been overlooked. 

You should allow 1 hour in total for your appointment.

  • You will be asked to lie down on a couch and remove any clothing from your torso (the main part of the body). 
  • You may also be asked to adjust your clothing to allow access to the bladder region. 
  • We will use paper tissue to cover your clothing to protect it from the gel.
  • Ultrasound gel is placed onto the area being examined and a small handheld probe is placed over this gel, which helps to move the probe across the torso. 
  • You may be asked to breathe in and hold your breath a number of times. 
  • You may also be asked to turn onto your side so that we can get views from multiple angles. 
  • Once the scan is completed, we will give you tissue to wipe away the gel and you can put your clothes back on.
  • The lights in the room will be dimmed so that the pictures on the screen can be seen more clearly. 
  • Selected images will be recorded so that they can be viewed later. 


Unless you are already in pain due to your symptoms, a kidney and bladder ultrasound scan does not cause any pain.


Your scan will be reviewed and most often reported on the same day. The results will be sent back to your doctor who will discuss the report with you.

If your referring doctor is your GP then you should make an appointment for 2 weeks after your scan to discuss the results.

If your referring doctor is a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ then you should have an outpatient appointment arranged. If not, please contact them to arrange a time to talk about the results and any treatment you may need.

Resource number: 4780/VER2
Published date: March 2024
Review date: March 2027

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about your ultrasound scan, please contact the Radiology Department

Phone: 020 7188 5490 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

  • choose option 1 to cancel and not rebook an appointment
  • choose option 2 to reschedule or book a new appointment
  • choose option 3 for results
  • choose option 4 for patient transport
  • choose option 5 for general enquiries

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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