Pediatric DMSA Scan
What is a DMSA scan and why is it done?
DMSA is short for “dimercapto succinic acid”, a special nuclear medicine that works directly
through the kidneys. This small amount of medicine helps your provider find out the function of
your child’s kidneys, if there is any damage or scarring caused by frequent urinary infections,
their shape, size and location.
Your child may need a DMSA scan if your child has one of these problems:
Kidney infections (pyelonephritis)
Kidney function issues or concerns
Kidney is not in the normal place in the body (ectopic kidney)
Loss of blood flow and oxygen supply to tissue or organs (ischemia)
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Acute renal failure
Multicystic dysplastic kidney
What should my child expect?
Talk with your provider if you think your child will need sedation for this test. If your child
needs to be sedated, the pediatric sedation staff will contact you the day before. They will let
you know what time your child needs to stop eating and drinking the night before.
Your child will go to the Pediatric Day Treatment & Sedation Clinic for this test. An
intravenous (IV) line will be started for the special medicine and possible IV fluids. A Child
Life Specialist will be there to help you and your child through this part of the test.
The staff will take you and your child to Radiology for the scan. A technologist will explain the
test to you and the DMSA medicine will be given through the IV. Your child will then wait for
1 ½ - 3 hours for the medicine to go through the blood stream and get to the kidneys. During this
time your child may eat and drink, relax or go for a walk. You will then go back to Radiology
where your child will need to lie flat on an exam table for 1-2 hours while a special camera takes
pictures as the medicine goes through the kidneys. It is very important to lie very still during this
test. If you child is unable, they may need sedation to help them lie still. One or two
parent/caregivers may stay during the scan. It may be helpful to bring activities, such as books,
movies or a bottle, to help your child lie still. When the test is complete, the IV will be removed.
After your child is stable, you will be able to leave the clinic or go to your follow up appointment
where your provider will discuss the results of the test with you.
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Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911.Copyright © 1/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7185