Kidney, Ureter and Bladder X-ray

What is a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

A kidney, ureter, and bladder (KUB) X-ray is also known as a “flat plate of the abdomen x-ray,” may be performed to assess the abdominal area for causes of abdominal pain, or to assess the organs and structures of the urinary and/or gastrointestinal (GI) system. A KUB X-ray may be a diagnostic procedure used to assess the urinary system or intestines.

X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams used to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film. External radiation produces images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays pass through body tissues onto specially treated plates (similar to camera film) and a “negative” type picture is made (the more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film).

Reasons for the procedure

A KUB X-ray may be performed to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain, such as masses, perforations, or obstruction. A KUB X-ray may be taken to evaluate the spine or intestines. The presence of calcifications (kidney stones) in the kidneys or ureters may be noted as well as the existence of constipation or spina bifida occulta.

There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend a KUB X-ray.

What to expect

A KUB X-ray may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Generally, a KUB X-ray follows this process:

  1. Patients are asked to remove any clothing, jewelry or other objects that might interfere with the procedure.
  2. If the child had to remove clothing, he or she will be given a gown to wear.
  3. The child is positioned in a manner that carefully places the part of the abdomen that is to be X-rayed between the X-ray machine and a cassette containing the X-ray film or digital media. Patients may be asked to stand erect, to lie flat on a table, or to lie on your side on a table, depending on the X-ray view the doctor has requested. X-rays may be taken from more than one position.
  4. Body parts not being imaged may be covered with a lead apron (shield) to avoid exposure to the X-rays.
  5. Once positioned, the technician will ask the child to hold still for a few moments while the X-ray exposure is made.
  6. It is extremely important that the child remain completely still while the exposure is made, as any movement may distort the image and require another X-ray to be done to obtain a clear image of the body part in question.
  7. The X-ray beam will be focused on the area to be photographed.
  8. The technician will step behind a protective window while the image is taken.

While the X-ray procedure itself causes no pain, the manipulation of the body part being examined may cause some discomfort or pain, particularly in the case of a recent injury or invasive procedure, such as surgery. The technician will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.

After the procedure

Generally, there is no special type of care following a KUB X-ray. However, your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.