An intravenous pyelogram is generally safe, and complications are rare. As with any medical procedure, intravenous pyelogram does carry a risk of complications, including allergic reactions.

In some people, the injection of X-ray dye can cause side effects such as:

  • A feeling of warmth or flushing
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Hives

Rarely, severe reactions to the dye occur, including:

  • Extremely low blood pressure
  • A sudden, full-body allergic reaction that can cause breathing difficulties and other life-threatening symptoms (anaphylactic shock)
  • Cardiac arrest

During the X-rays, you'll be exposed to low levels of radiation. The amount of radiation you're exposed to during an intravenous pyelogram is small, so the risk of any damage to cells in your body is extremely low.

However, if you're pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before having an intravenous pyelogram. Though the risk to an unborn baby is small, your doctor may consider whether it's better to wait or to use another imaging test.

April 15, 2015