EC Renal Scan- Diagnostics

A renal (kidney) scan is a test to evaluate the anatomy and function of the kidney. A renal scan is also known as renal imaging or renal scintigraphy. A renal scan is used for diagnosis of renal cortical lesions by using radioisotopes. It is also done to detect the location and degree of renal scars and renal parenchymal changes.

What is EC renal scan?

EC renal scan is a type of nuclear medicine procedure that uses a radioactive material called a radiotracer. Doctor would use “Technetium-99m ethylene dicysteine (EC or TC99m EC)” which is a metabolite of ethylene cysteine dimer while performing EC renal scan. EC or TC99M EC is a new technetium-labelled renal radiotracer. It has faster clearance (higher leakage) rate and thus absorbed radiation dose in patients is less. Additionally, an EC renal scan creates better quality cortical images.

The Procedure:

An EC renal scan may take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the patient’s requirement of the scan. A small amount of radiotracer is injected in the beginning of the procedure by intravenous line (IV) in hand or arm. While the radiotracer is being injected, ACE-inhibitor renal scintigraphy, diuretic renal scintigraphy, renal perfusion and function imaging will usually start imaging. Cortical imaging requires a three-hour delay after tracer is injected. 

When it’s time for commencing the EC renal scan, the patient will be asked either to lie diown or sit on the scanning table. The gamma cameras are used to take the images.  Depending on the camera, it may move around the patient or the patient may be asked to change positions in order to obtain images from different angles.

What happens after the procedure?

It is recommended to drink lots of fluids for the next 24 hours after an EC renal scan as emptying the bladder will flush the radiotracer from body. A radiologist or a physician with specialized training in nuclear medicine generally interprets the images and creates a report of the EC renal scan. If the patient has any signs of reaction to the radiotracer or infections such as pain, redness, welling etc., it is recommended to see the doctor immediately.

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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.