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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017



Imaging tests

MRI scan

An MRI (






maging) scan uses

radio waves and powerful magnets to take pictures of

the inside of the body. It does not use x-rays. An MRI

scan is good at showing the spine and soft tissues

like the kidneys and brain. It is also very useful for

looking at blood vessels.

You may not be able to have a CT scan with contrast

if you have an allergy to it or if your kidneys aren’t

working well. In such cases, an MRI scan of your

abdomen may be used instead to check for a tumor

in your kidneys. For an MRI scan, a contrast dye may

still be used to make the pictures clearer. MRI scans

use a different kind of contrast dye than CT scans.

But, the contrast dye may not be given if your kidney

function is below a certain level. In people with very

poor kidney function, MRI contrast can cause a rare,

but serious condition called nephrogenic systemic


Getting an MRI scan is similar to getting a CT scan.

But, MRI scans take longer to complete. The full

exam often lasts an hour or more. For the scan, you

will need to lie on a table that moves through a large

tunnel in the scanning machine. The scan may cause

your body to feel a bit warm. Like a CT scan, you

may not learn of the MRI scan results for a few days

since a radiologist needs to see the pictures.

Figure 8


An ultrasound uses

sound waves to

make pictures of the

inside of the body.

Illustration Copyright © 2017 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.