Urology Center of Englewood


Ultrasound of the Kidneys, Bladder, or Prostate

In medicine, imaging is used to collect pictures of the inside of the body. Several different types of imaging tools are available, including x-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Ultrasound is often used to evaluate the prostate and the organs of the urinary tract. Ultrasound uses sound waves to assess the structure of organs; the sound waves are painless and do not involve exposure to radiation.

Abdominal Ultrasound

An abdominal ultrasound can be used to evaluate the bladder or kidneys. During the procedure, the patient lies on their back and a hand-held ultrasound device is moved over the skin of the abdomen. A gel is applied to the skin to improve the transmission of the sound waves. The images produced by the ultrasound are viewed on a monitor. Abdominal ultrasound may be used to assess many different conditions or problems, including kidney stones, kidney obstruction, and residual urine (urine that remains in the bladder after urination). The procedure generally requires very little preparation on the part of the patient, although a full bladder may sometimes be required.

Transrectal Ultrasound

A transrectal ultrasound can be used to evaluate the prostate. In this case, an ultrasound wand is inserted into the rectum. If prostate cancer is suspected, the transrectal ultrasound is often performed in combination with a prostate biopsy (removal of samples of tissue for further testing). Some bowel preparation (such as use of laxatives or an enema) may be recommended before the procedure.


If an ultrasound is the only procedure performed, you should be able to return to your usual activities immediately after the procedure. If you also underwent a biopsy, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

Reference: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Imaging of the Urinary Tract. NIH publication No. 12-5107. January 2012.