Bilateral Renal Artery Duplex

What is a bilateral renal artery duplex? A bilateral renal artery duplex, or renal artery ultrasound, is a non-invasive test using high frequency sound waves to produce images of the arteries supplying oxygenated blood to the kidneys. The kidneys are in charge of filtration, nutrient reabsorption, and waste elimination. The test is performed to determine if there are any blockages or narrowing of the renal arteries.

Why might your doctor ask for this test? Your doctor may suggest this test if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Abnormal sounds in the abdominal region (abdominal bruit)
  • Elevated serum creatinine levels
  • Back pain correlated with kidney issues
  • Electrolyte imbalances such as hyperkalemia (high potassium levels), hypercalcemia (high calcium levels), etc. and associated metabolic acidosis (high acid contents in body fluids)
  • Previous kidney complications

The test may also be ordered if your doctor believes you may have renal artery disease. Usually caused by stenosis, narrowing of the arterial walls, renal artery disease is the leading cause of high blood pressure and when left untreated can lead to kidney failure.

How should I prepare? DO NOT eat for eight hours prior to your appointment. Take any prescribed medications with small amounts of water. If you are diabetic, DO NOT take any insulin or pills the morning of your appointment.

How is the test performed? Your healthcare provider will ask for you to lay on an examination table. A gel will be placed on your abdomen and an ultrasound wand, known as a transducer, will be used to examine and form images of the arteries. You may be asked to lie on each side so that images of your kidneys can be taken. The test takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Results: Once the test images are analyzed and given to your physician, they will go over any additional tests and treatments you may need.