Intravenous urography (also known as intravenous pyelography) is an X-ray procedure which is used to assess problems in the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. These structures make up the urinary tract. The ureters are tubes which go from each kidney to the bladder. The urethra is the tube from the bladder that passes out urine. The urinary tract does not show up well on ordinary X-ray pictures. However, with intravenous urography a contrast dye is injected into a vein ('intravenous' injection). The dye travels in the bloodstream, concentrates in the kidneys, and is passed out into the ureters with urine made by the kidneys.
The dye blocks X-rays so the structure of the kidneys, ureters and bladder shows up clearly as white on X-ray pictures. The X-ray pictures produced are called an intravenous urogram (IVU), but can also be called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
You will be asked to wear a gown and to lie on a couch. Contrast dye is then injected into a vein in your hand or arm. This may sting a little. The dye then starts to filter through the kidneys into the tubes which go from each kidney to the bladder (the ureters). A series of X-ray pictures is then taken over your tummy (abdomen), usually every 5-10 minutes. You stay on the couch between each X-ray picture, but you may be asked to get up to empty your bladder before the final X-ray picture is taken. The procedure usually takes about 30-60 minutes. However, some pictures may be taken hours later in certain circumstances. You should be able to go home as soon as the procedure is finished. You can eat normally straight afterwards.