The development of x-ray imaging to study renal function

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The well-established role of the kidney in control of blood volume and ultimately arterial blood pressure has been underscored by the demonstration of alterations in renal hemodynamics and function recognized as responsible for these and other regulatory mechanisms. Nevertheless, the spatial complexity of intrarenal structure and function has made evident the need to study these separately in different regions of the intact kidney. Because of the introduction of x-rays, assessment of renal function has indeed been one of their attractive applications. However, despite the appeal of their noninvasiveness, several limitations confounded the different x-ray techniques used, most of which remained unresolved until the development of computed tomography. Furthermore, the development of fast imaging, which allows repetitive analysis of the same region of interest during the transit of contrast medium, holds a great potential to estimate intrarenal distribution of blood flow and the dynamic characteristics of tubular fluid flow in individual nephron segments. This latter assessment requires the administration of filterable x-ray contrast medium, which is cleared from the plasma almost exclusively by glomerular filtration, and the generation of contrast dilution curves. A historical review of the development and progress of the various x-ray techniques used will help understand the past and present of x-ray imaging, and will make it easier to envision the importance of their future roles in the study of renal physiology and pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-416
Number of pages17
JournalKidney international
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Computed tomography
  • Contrast dilution curves
  • Contrast media
  • Diagnosis of renal disease
  • Non- surgical visualization
  • X-rays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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