Currently, diagnostic imaging techniques are very useful for detecting and evaluating a wide variety of pathologies in most medical specialties. Urology is no exception, these techniques being effective in diagnosing and evaluating various kidney disorders and urinary tract problems.
Among the most frequent uses of imaging techniques for diagnosis in urology are the following:
Ultrasonography is very useful since it does not use X-rays or contrast medium. Not needing contrast is an advantage because in patients with kidney failure, the use of contrast could damage their kidneys. In addition, it is a low cost test and displays images in real time, so that the specialist can immediately obtain additional images if necessary.
In urology, ultrasonography is often used to:
- Obtain images of stones in the urinary tract, as well as inflammation and tumors in these channels.
- Locate blockages in the kidneys or bladder.
- Determine if the bladder holds urine after urination.
- Determine the size of the prostate gland.
- Obtain images to guide where to obtain samples for a kidney or prostate biopsy.
On the other hand, Doppler ultrasonography provides information on blood flow, which allows the specialist to determine the cause of problems such as erectile dysfunction or other testicular disorders.
In urology, computed tomography (CT) is used to provide images of the urinary tract and surrounding structures. By means of computed tomography it is possible to perform an angiography, which is used to study and diagnose cases of patients suffering from kidney or urinary tract disorders or pathology. Thus, CT angiography is a less invasive alternative to conventional angiography.
In some cases, a contrast is injected intravenously to highlight the area to be studied in the images, so that images are taken immediately after administering the contrast when the specialist wants to obtain more details of the kidneys, or about 10 minutes later if he wants to take a closer look at the ureters (that is, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder).
However, CT also has some drawbacks: exposure to ionizing radiation (X-rays), and that the contrast can cause problems in some patients such as allergic reactions or risk of kidney damage.
Magnetic resonance imaging
In urology, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), like CT, is useful for obtaining images of the urinary tract and surrounding structures, with the advantage that it does not use X-rays.
Like CT, MRI is also used to perform angiography (in this case called MRI angiography), in a less invasive way. MRI is useful for imaging blood vessels, and for some disorders it offers more detail than CT, although it has the disadvantage that it does not provide much useful information in cases of urinary tract stones.
For the performance of the MRI, it is also possible to use contrast to make the images clearer. Although this contrast is different from that used in CT scans and it is rare that it can cause allergic reactions, it cannot always be used in people with kidney failure.
In addition to the above, another of the most innovative imaging techniques applied in the specialty of urology is the new fusion biopsy for the early and accurate detection of prostate cancer, which fuses multiparametric magnetic resonance images with 3D images by real-time ultrasound to detect suspicious areas and guide the biopsy.
Imaging diagnosis of urological problems at Vithas Xanit Internacional
Whether you need to go for a routine urological check-up, or the care of a specialist to diagnose a problem, at Vithas Xanit Internacional we put at your disposal the best specialists and the most advanced technology for diagnostic imaging, thanks to which we can offer you the most accurate diagnoses and the best treatment options. Contact us for more information or make an appointment.