Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound as a Radiation-Free Alternative to Fluoroscopic Nephrostogram for Evaluating Ureteral Patency

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We compared contrast enhanced ultrasound and fluoroscopic nephrostography in the evaluation of ureteral patency following percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

Materials and Methods:

This prospective cohort, noninferiority study was performed after obtaining institutional review board approval. We enrolled eligible patients with kidney and proximal ureteral stones who underwent percutaneous nephrolithotomy at our center. On postoperative day 1 patients received contrast enhanced ultrasound and fluoroscopic nephrostogram within 2 hours of each other to evaluate ureteral patency, which was the primary outcome of this study.


A total of 92 pairs of imaging studies were performed in 82 patients during the study period. Five study pairs were excluded due to technical errors that prevented imaging interpretation. Females slightly predominated over males with a mean ± SD age of 50.5 ± 15.9 years and a mean body mass index of 29.6 ± 8.6 kg/m2. Of the remaining 87 sets of studies 69 (79.3%) demonstrated concordant findings regarding ureteral patency for the 2 imaging techniques and 18 (20.7%) were discordant. The nephrostomy tube was removed on the same day in 15 of the 17 patients who demonstrated antegrade urine flow only on contrast enhanced ultrasound and they had no subsequent adverse events. No adverse events were noted related to ultrasound contrast injection. While contrast enhanced ultrasound used no ionizing radiation, fluoroscopic nephrostograms provided a mean radiation exposure dose of 2.8 ± 3.7 mGy.


A contrast enhanced ultrasound nephrostogram can be safely performed to evaluate for ureteral patency following percutaneous nephrolithotomy. This imaging technique was mostly concordant with fluoroscopic findings. Most discordance was likely attributable to the higher sensitivity for patency of contrast enhanced ultrasound compared to fluoroscopy.

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