VCUG (Voiding Cysto UrethroGram)

Also known as: VCUG.

What is a voiding cystourethrogram?

A voiding cystourethrogram procedure utilizes an X-ray called fluoroscopy, and a watery like liquid called contrast, to help examine the bladder, ureters, kidneys and direction of urine flow.

It looks for any possible causes of a urinary tract infection (UTI), or vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), which is when urine flows backwards from the bladder and towards the kidneys.

Because this test uses radiation, women who are pregnant and any accompanying children, are not permitted to be in the room during the scan. If you are pregnant, please bring another adult who can stay with your child during the scan and/or another adult who can wait in the waiting room with the other children.  

The amount of time to complete the test is different for each child.  Please plan for the test to take approximately 30 minutes to at least 1 hour once in the exam room.

What to expect during the procedure

Step 1: Getting Ready

  • Within the room, you will see a table with a camera attached to the it.
  • Next, your child will need to remove all clothes including underwear and will be asked change into a hospital gown. 
  • The technologist will then ask for you to help your child lay down on the table.
  • A member of the medical team will then use soft cotton balls and a soap called “Betadine” (brown soap) to clean the area where your child urinates.
  • Some children say this part feels cold and wet or can even tickle.
  • Girls will be asked to make “frog legs,” “butterfly wings” or “ballerina legs” (feet together, knees apart while lying down) so that the area can be properly cleaned.  
  • A “lubricated catheter” (a small, flexible, plastic tube, covered with jelly) will then be placed as gently as possible into your child’s bladder and taped in place.
    • Your child may feel pressure and or the need to urinate during this time.
    • To help make the catheter insertion easier for the child, ask him or her to take deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth).
    • Deep breaths help muscles relax and allow the tube to slide in smoothly.
    • If the child is too young to take deep breaths, gently breathe onto his or her face to encourage the child to take a breath of air.
  • Once placed, the catheter is then connected to the liquid contrast. 

Step 2: Taking Pictures

  • The technologist will then position the camera over your child’s stomach and begin taking the pictures.
  • The camera never touches your child.
  • To get good results, your child must hold still for the pictures. You may be asked to assist your child if necessary.
  • The contrast will begin filling your child’s bladder (some chidren feel something cold and bubbley filling them).
  • The technologist will take pictures of your child’s bladder as it fills and empties.

Step 3: Going to the Bathroom

  • Once the bladder is full, your child will then empty his or her bladder by “voiding” or urinating the liquid contrast on the medical pad placed underneath them.
  • The technologist continues taking pictures to check the flow of urine while your child is urinating out the contrast.
  • Once your child begins to urinate the plastic catheter gently slides out on its own or with the help of the technologist. (Your child does not feel this).
  • The procedure is complete as soon as your child is able to empty his or her bladder.
  • Please be aware that some children may feel discomfort the first time they go to the bathroom after the test.  This is temporary and will go away shortly.  

Step 4: Results

Results will be sent to your doctor within 1-2 business days.

Reviewed by: Rafael Gosalbez, MD

This page was last updated on: March 26, 2021 02:31 PM

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