What is it?

A renal scan gives an image of the kidney’s shape, size, circulation and, especially, its function. To perform this scan, a substance is administered (DMSA), which is fixated in the renal cortex.

Test procedure

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Are you pregnant or do you think you may be pregnant? Or are you breastfeeding? Please tell the physician before the injection. The test will not be performed if you are pregnant. If you are not sure whether you are pregnant or not, the test will be postponed until you are certain.

If you are breastfeeding, make sure to discuss this with the physician before the test. You will receive additional instructions about how to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to your child.

Preparation for the test

You do not need to be fasting for this test. It is important that you drink enough before the test in order to activate the kidneys. Go to the toilet right before the test in order to empty the bladder.

It is important to reassure and calm small children and babies before the test. Feeding your baby, for example, can help with this.

Test procedure

You must check in with the department twice, with four to six hours inbetween each check-in over the course of 24 hours (depending on the indication). A small amount of radioactive substance will be injected intravenously in your arm. You will come back back to have the images taken after a certain amount of time has passed. The images take 15 minutes. The test is sometimes combined with a renogram.

After the procedure

If you are not admitted to the hospital, you can resume your normal activities after the test.

Safety and radiation


There are essentially no side effects: the injected product causes no abnormal sensations and only in very rare cases causes (very mild) allergic reactions. The injected radioactive material does constitute a dose of radiation, but it is very small (about as much as for a regular CT scan).

The quantity of radiation that you are exposed to during the test is not higher or lower depending on the number of images taken.

The radioactive material will have disappeared almost completely from your body 12 hours after the test.


We prepare a report of the test. That report and the images are digitally available to the physician who requested the test.

Centres and specialist areas

Nuclear Medicine

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Van Den Bossche Bieke, Dr De Vleeschouwer Mieke