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DMSA Renal (Kidney) Scan

Parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.

Fast Facts about DMSA Renal Scans

The DMSA renal (Ree-nul) scan is a nuclear medicine test that gives detailed pictures of the kidneys and how they are working.

Nuclear medicine tests work through the use of a small amount of radioactive material called a radioisotope (RAY-dee-oh-EYE-so-tope). The radioisotope is save and will not hurt your child.

The DMSA scan itself does not hurt, but an intravenous (IV) line is needed to give a timy amount of the radioisotope before the test.

Most children are able to lie perfectly still for the test; young children may even nap through the test.

In rare cases, when a child is unable to stay still for the test, sedation medication may be needed to help him or her sleep during the test.

When sedation medication is prescribed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the test. You can ask your child’s nurse or physician about more information on rules for sedation.

The DMSA injection is given through the IV. It takes at least 2 hours for the DMSA to be absorbed by your child’s kidneys.

A supervising pediatric radiology doctor is always nearby when sedation medication is given.

If your child is not having sedation, the IV will be removed after the DMSA injection.

What is A DMSA Renal (Kidney) Scan?

If your child is having sedation, the IV may stay in place until it is time for the DMSA scan and may be used to give your child the sedation medication.

The DMSA renal scan is a nuclear medicine test that gives doctors detailed pictures not only of how the kidneys look, but how they are working. DMSA (dimercapto succinic acid) is a short-lived radioisotope that goes directly to the kidneys once inside the body and only stays radioactive for a few hours up to a day. Using the DMSA and a special camera, nuclear medicine doctors can see the kidneys and diagnose problems at their earliest stages. Although a bit different from traditional X-Rays and CT or MRI scans, nuclear medicine tests using radioisotopes like DMSA have about the same amount of radiation as other radiology tests.

You and your child will be allowed to leave the department during the 2 hours after the DMSA injection. If he or she is not having sedation, you may feed your child during that time.

If sedation medication has been prescribed for your childe, please do not give him or her anything to eat or drink until after the scan.

During the 2-hour wait time, we ask that you try to keep him or her awake so he or she will be tired and eager to nap when the pictures need to be taken.

Before the test begins, a pediatric radiology nurse will place an intravenous (IV) line in your child’s arm, hand or foot. A tiny amount of the DMSA will be given through the IV, based on your child’s weight. Although the DMSA is completely safe and will not hurt your child, he or she might be a bit uncomfortable for a moment when the IV is first placed.

After about 2 hours, when the DMSA has been absorbed, detailed pictures will be taken of the size, shape and position of the kidneys. These pictures will give your doctor an idea of how well the kidneys are working, and can show areas of the kidneys that may be infected or scarred from a previous infection.

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