What is the role of nuclear renal scanning in the diagnosis of nephrolithiasis?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: Chirag N Dave, MD; Chief Editor: Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS  more...
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Answer

A nuclear renal scan can be used to objectively measure differential renal function, especially in a dilated system for which the degree of obstruction is in question. This is also a reasonable study in pregnant patients, in whom radiation exposure must be limited.

The intravenously injected radioisotope is eliminated via the nephron, with the rate of clearance from the renal unit providing an excellent estimate of the glomerular filtration rate and the relative rate of drainage or clearing from each kidney. A drainage half-time that is 20 minutes or longer indicates obstruction, while a drainage half-time of 10 minutes or less is considered unobstructed. If the drainage half-time is 10-20 minutes, the result is indeterminate.


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