Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

A children's (pediatric) voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is an x-ray examination of a child's bladder and lower urinary tract that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material.

Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. When the bladder is filled with and then emptied of a water-soluble contrast material, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the bladder and lower urinary tract.

  • How should I prepare?

    You should inform your physician of any medications your child is taking and if he or she has any allergies, especially to contrast materials. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.

    Because a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is an x-ray procedure, metal objects can affect the image, so avoid dressing your child in clothing with snaps or zippers. No other special preparation is required. An older child may be asked to wear a gown during the exam and to remove jewelry and eye glasses.

  • What should I expect?

    The technologist begins by positioning the child on the table. Infants and young children may be wrapped tightly in a blanket or other restraint to help them lie still during the imaging.

    Several x-rays are taken of the bladder. Then, after cleaning the genital area, a catheter is inserted through the urethra, a tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body, into the bladder, which is filled with a water-soluble contrast material. The catheter is then withdrawn.

    The radiologist will watch the fluoroscopic monitor while the bladder is filling to see if any of the liquid goes backward into one or both ureters. Several x-ray images of the bladder and urethra are then taken as the child empties his or her bladder. A final x-ray is taken when the child has voided completely.

    A voiding cystourethrogram is usually completed within 30 minutes.

    A voiding cystourethrogram is painless, though young children can be frightened when they are tightly wrapped and unable to move. The antiseptic used to clean and prepare for the insertion of the catheter may feel cold. Some children may experience mild discomfort when the catheter is inserted and the bladder is filled with the liquid contrast material.

    A parent is to stay in the room to comfort the child but will be required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure.

    After the procedure, your physician will receive a copy of your report within 24-48 hours, and he or she will be the one to give you the test results.

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