Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG) – Pediatric Imaging Procedure
A VCUG can help:
- Diagnose reflux
- Assess if your child has recurring urinary tract infections
- To follow-up on patients with known urinary reflux following antibiotics or anti-reflux surgery
How to prepare for a VCUG?
There is no special physical preparation for this test. You may want to explain to your child beforehand about the test if you feel that would best lower his/her anxiety. It is helpful to explain in simple age-appropriate terms why the test is needed, what will happen, and what you and your child can do to prepare for the test.
Your child may bring a security blanket or toy with him/her to hold during the procedure. If you/your child have any cardiac problems please contact your primary care physician in case prophylactic antibiotics are indicated.
How is an VCUG performed?
You and your child will be greeted by one of our technologists who will explain what will happen during the examination. You/your child will be given a hospital gown to change into and will need to void before the study begins. You/your child will be asked to lie on the imaging table. Girls will be asked to lie with their knees bent and dropped to the side with their feet together, in a “frog” position. Boys will be asked to lie with their legs straight. Your/your child’s urethra will be washed sterilely with soap and water using soft cotton balls. It is very important that this area stay extremely clean so not to introduce any bacteria to the area. A small amount of Xylocaine jelly, which acts as a lubricant and numbing agent, will be placed at the urethra opening and on the tip of the catheter (small flexible plastic tube). The technologist will gently slide the catheter through the urethra opening and into the bladder. The catheter will then be taped to the leg to hold it in place. Urine that is in the bladder will be collected for bacteriologic testing. The catheter will be connected to a bottle containing a clear liquid called X-ray contrast, which allows the radiologist to see inside the bladder. An X-ray camera will be positioned over you/your child and used to take pictures during the study. Imaging will begin and the liquid will flow from the bag into the bladder. When you/your child’s bladder is full, you/your child will be asked to void into a plastic container (or on the table). More pictures will be taken until the bladder is empty. A post void image may be required if the bladder does not completely empty during the first phase of the study. The entire test may take up to 15 minutes.
What can be expected during the test?
You/your child may feel discomfort with the placement of the catheter. Our personnel are aware of the sensitive nature of the area to be tested and every effort is made to ensure privacy and to make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible.
What happens after the study?
Once the study is complete, you/your child will be free to leave and resume normal activity. After the test, you/your child may have pink urine or feel some discomfort the next two or three times when going to the bathroom. This can occur in some cases and will go away over time. Drinking extra fluids will help ease the discomfort. If your child is unable or unwilling to go to the bathroom following the test, try a warm bath. This usually helps ease the discomfort. Call your doctor if you/your child have blood in the urine, pain, fever, or are unable to urinate after eight hours.
Resources: VCUG Overview Brochure
DID YOU KNOW?
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