Renal ultrasound is an excellent screening examination for suspected urinary tract obstruction. Its usefulness is based on the ability to detect hydronephrosis. However, it must be recognized that a significant number of conditions exist which can mimic or produce dilatation of the collecting system without urinary tract obstruction. Similarly, obstruction without hydronephrosis, although infrequent, exists. Situations causing either false positive or false negative renal sonograms are discussed. Renal sonography suggesting hydronephrosis should be followed with additional diagnostic studies to confirm or exclude obstruction. Similar persistence should be used when obstruction is strongly suggested clinically, and ultrasound fails to demonstrate hydronephrosis.
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