Kidney Physical Exam

Book an appointment for a kidney physical exam with a specialist at our Beverly Hills medical officeif you’re suffering from urinary symptoms like pain while peeing or presence of blood droplets in your urine. Acute kidney injury can manifest in many ways, including something as common and harmless as lower back pain, so it’s important to visit the doctor so he or she can perform a full kidney physical examination to find the underlying cause of your symptoms.

A kidney physical exam is the first step to diagnose various renal diseases such as:

  • Kidney stones
  • Pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney)
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Acute kidney injury (AKI)

Before your physical exam begins, your physician will ask you to give a detailed account of your symptoms. You will also be expected to provide a complete medical history of any other diseases you or your family have been diagnosed with. It is also important to take note of your medications because your physician will inquire about the kinds of drugs you use on a regular basis as well as their doses. Some medications are associated with renal side effects so make sure you share the list of the medications you use with your physician.


The first thing your physician will do is inspect your abdomen and other body regions for signs of kidney disease. Such signs include pallor, discoloration, or visible fullness in the abdomen which can indicate the presence of a mass.


During this step of your kidney physical exam, your physician will feel your abdomen to detect abnormalities in your kidney. If you experience any pain or discomfort during this part of your physical examination, let your physician know. Pain triggered by touch at certain points can indicate infections like pyelonephritis or a urinary tract infection (UTI). Palpating different parts of the abdomen can reveal kidney enlargement which is a sign of tumors or cysts (PKD).


Your physician will use a stethoscope to detect any abnormal sounds in your lungs or in your renal arteries (blood vessels supplying your kidneys). This step helps your physician determine if any pulmonary edema (build-up of fluid in the lungs) or renal artery stenosis (narrowing) is present. Pulmonary edema is a complication of kidney disease and requires immediate intervention to prevent progression of the disease. Renal artery stenosis causes hypertension and leads to a decline in kidney function, so it is crucial to discuss the suitable treatment plan with your physician.


If your physician identifies any signs that point to kidney disease during your physical examination, he or she may request a renal ultrasound to check for pathological changes in your kidneys which can help confirm a diagnosis. Ultrasound is a noninvasive, safe, and cheap method that provides images of your kidneys so your physician can assess their size and shape as well as check if there are any masses present.

Laboratory tests

To gain a complete understanding of kidney disease, your physician will request multiple laboratory blood tests that will help in diagnosing and mapping the progression of your condition. In addition to a complete blood count (CBC), other special blood tests that are requested as part of your kidney evaluation include:

  • Serum creatinine
  • Serum electrolytes
  • BUN:creatinine ratio
  • Cystatin C
  • Renin

Another key lab test that will be needed is urinalysis, this is performed by analyzing a sample of your urine. You will provide a urine sample which will be collected and analyzed in three stages. First of all, a specialist will examine the color and odor of your sample. The second stage is called a dipstick test where a strip of paper is dipped in your sample to detect the levels of certain chemical substances like:

  • Protein
  • Ketones
  • Nitrites
  • Glucose
  • WBC esterase

The third and final stage is called microscopic urine analysis. This is when a specialist examines a drop of your urine sample under the microscope to check if any of the following is present:

  • Epithelial cells
  • Blood cells (red blood cells and leukocytes)
  • Crystals and casts
  • Lipid

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