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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.
The DMSA renal scan is a nuclear medicine test that gives doctors detailed pictures of the kidneys. 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. Using 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 scans, nuclear medicine tests using radioisotopes like DMSA have about the same amount of radiation as other radiology tests.
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.
The DMSA scan is done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of Children’s Hospital. A pediatric radiology nurse will put in the IV and give the DMSA injection. You and your child may leave the department or stay in the radiology waiting area for the next 90 minutes.
You will be given a specific time to return to the Department of Pediatric Radiology. When you return, you and your child will be taken to a nuclear medicine room. Inside the room will be a nuclear medicine technologist who will do the DMSA scan, a table and a nuclear medicine camera. The lights will be dim inside the room.
We welcome your help and support during this test. Since there is no actual radiation involved at the time of taking the pictures, one parent or guardian is invited to be with your child in the scan room. Other adults and children must stay in the waiting area.
Once a nuclear medicine doctor approves the quality of the pictures, the test will be over. A report of your child’s scan will be sent to the doctor who ordered it, usually within 48 hours. If there are any urgent results to report, your doctor will be contacted immediately.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor or technologist performing the test needs to know about, about please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.
Before you come to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen in words that he or she can understand. Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the test, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain tests to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child, or feel your child will have difficulty during the scan, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children's and ask to speak with the Child Life Specialist.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.