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A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is a test that is done to see if there are problems with the bladder or other parts of the urinary system. It uses contrast liquid and X-rays so the doctor can see the size of the bladder and how the bladder fills and drains.
This test may be used to check how well your child's bladder works. Or it may be used to find the cause of other problems, such as frequent urinary infections.
For this test, your child will be on an X-ray table. A standard X-ray will be taken. Your child's genital area will be cleaned, and a flexible, thin tube called a catheter will be put through your child's urethra and into the bladder. Next, your child's bladder will be filled through the catheter with a liquid that shows up well on X-ray pictures. X-rays will be taken while liquid is filling your child's bladder and as the bladder empties. If old enough, your child may be asked to stop urinating, change positions, and start to urinate again. A second bladder filling may be needed. The catheter will slip out by itself or be removed. Once your child's bladder is empty, a final X-ray will be taken.
Your child may find it uncomfortable when the catheter is put in. His or her bladder may feel very full. Some children also feel a need to urinate when the contrast material is put in.
Depending on your child's age, you may want to tell your child what to expect. You may want to ask the doctor about things you can do to help your child relax and feel more comfortable. You may be able to hold your child's hand or try to distract your child. If your child is too young to hold still, your child may be given medicine so he or she will feel relaxed for this test.
You probably will be able to take your child home right after the test. Your child can go back to his or her usual activities right away. But he or she may need to urinate more often for several days after the test. Your child may also have some burning during and after urination. This usually goes away after 1 or 2 days. Having your child drink fluids may help with any burning. It can also help prevent a urinary infection.
Having a test can be stressful both for your child and for you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for the test.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Avery L. Seifert MD - Urology
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