Internal organs like the kidneys can be assessed by ultrasound for swelling, abnormal masses and stones, using a probe on the outside of the body. Ultrasound of the prostate is usually done with an internal probe placed in the rectum, since the prostate lies immediately in front of the rectum, and at a distance from the body surface.
Bladder function can be assessed non-invasively with ultrasound and a urinary flow test that measures the rate of urine flow with a full bladder, the volume of urine passed and the volume left behind in the bladder.
More detailed examination can be done by computed tomography (CT) scan, which uses X-rays and may involve injection of a radiological contrast agent into a vein. In some situations, kidney function can be examined by nuclear renography, for which a small amount of a radioactive substance is injected into a vein. Bone scans similarly use a radioactive chemical, in this case targeting the bones to look for signs of cancer spread.
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