Voiding Cystourethragram (VCUG)

Having a VCUG

Your child has been scheduled for a Voiding Cystourethragram. Please arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled exam. This will allow time for you to register your child for the exam.

Please bring:

  • Your child's insurance card
  • A list of any medicines (prescription and over the counter) that your child is currently taking
  • Your child's immunization record
  • Your child's Express ID Card, if you have one

What is a Voiding Cystourethragram (VCUG)?

A Voiding Cystourethragram or VCUG is a series of pictures taken to check the bladder and urethra as the child urinates.

The bladder is a small, saclike structure that holds urine until you are ready to go to the bathroom. The urethra is a small straw-like part of your body that is connected to the bladder and allows your urine to come out when you go to the bathroom. Both the bladder and urethra are part of the urinary system, which is responsible for getting rid of wastes and excess water from the body.

An X-ray dye (a colorless liquid) will be used to fill the bladder through the catheter while the X-ray pictures are being taken. This X-ray dye will help the bladder and urethra show up on the X-ray picture.

Getting Ready for the Test

Depending on the reason a VCUG is ordered, please read and follow the instructions listed under VCUG Patient Prep. It is very important that the instructions are followed closely.

When you arrive at the Radiology Department, one of the radiographers (the person who will be taking your child's X-ray pictures) will explain to you and your child how the exam will be done.

Some questions will be asked about allergies (if any). This is important before any medicines or x-ray dyes are given to your child. Your child will then be taken into a special room where your child will see a large X-ray camera over a special table and a TV set. Your child will be asked to change into a gown. This is to keep buttons and zippers from showing up on your child's picture.

VCUG Patient Prep

All Ages:

  • No fever for 24 hours
  • No special preparations before the test

During the Test

An X-ray camera will take pictures of your child's body. Your child will be asked to lay very still for the pictures. The camera will not hurt or touch your child. The radiographer will then go to another part of the room to take your child's picture. The radiographer will then show the pictures to the radiologist (an X-ray doctor).

After the X-ray pictures have been taken, a nurse will place a special tube called a catheter into the area where your child urinates. The nurse will give you or your child a step-by-step explanation of how a catheter is placed in your child's bladder.

The radiologist will then begin your test. Once the catheter is in place, an X-ray dye is given to your child through the catheter to help these body parts show up on the X-ray pictures. This is done while the pictures are being taken.

Soon the bladder will get very full and your child will feel like he or she needs to urinate. The radiologist may have your child turn a little bit to one side and then to the other side. Your child will have to urinate on the special towels on our table so that the radiologist can take pictures of your child's bladder as it empties. As your child urinates, the catheter will slide out of their bladder. It is very important for your child to urinate on the table. As the radiologist takes several pictures a clicking noise will be heard.

The whole test will take about 30 minutes to an hour.

After the Test

There's a short wait while the X-rays are reviewed. Sometimes it may be necessary to take more pictures. When everything is finished, your child will be released. The radiologist will then tell your child's doctor the results of the test.

Note: Sometimes the catheter may irritate the bladder. You or your child may notice a little blood in his/her urine. If the bleeding continues over a 24-hour period, call your child's doctor.

Commonly Asked Questions about the Exam

How long will the exam take?
The exam will generally take 30 minutes to an hour.

When will I know the results of the exam?
The radiologist will let your doctor know the results of your child's exam. Your child's doctor will then discuss the results of the exam with you.

Will it hurt when the catheter is placed? 
It may feel a little uncomfortable. Taking a deep breath while the catheter is placed will help ease any discomfort your child may have.

If you have any questions about the test, please ask your radiographer or doctor.