A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is an X-ray test. It takes pictures of your bladder and urethra while you urinate. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This test may be used to check how well your bladder works. Or it may be used to find the cause of problems with your bladder or urethra. It is done by a doctor called a radiologist. A person who is trained to take X-rays, called an X-ray technologist, may help the doctor during the test.
The doctor or a nurse will guide a thin, flexible tube through your urethra into your bladder. This tube is called a catheter. Then the doctor will put a liquid called contrast material into your bladder through the catheter. This liquid shows up well on X-ray pictures. When your bladder is full of contrast material, the doctor or X-ray technologist will take X-rays while you are in different positions. You may stand up, sit, and lie down, for example. Then the doctor or nurse will take out the catheter. You will be asked to urinate into a bedpan or urinal. This will empty the contrast material from your bladder. The doctor or X-ray technologist will take more X-rays while you urinate.
You will be awake for the test. You may find it uncomfortable when the catheter is put in. Your bladder may feel very full. And you may have an urge to urinate when the contrast material is put in. You may feel embarrassed to urinate in front of other people, but your doctor understands this. It may help to know that the room will probably be darkened. You may be partly hidden from the doctor and nurse behind the X-ray machine. If you start to feel embarrassed, try to take deep, slow breaths.
You will be able to go home right after the test. You can go back to your usual activities right away. You may need to urinate more often for a few days after the test. You may also notice some burning during and after you urinate. This usually goes away after 1 or 2 days. Drink lots of fluids to help relieve the burning. This also helps prevent a urinary infection.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Having a test can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your test.
Before the test
After the test
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& A. Evan Eyler, MD, MPH - Family Medicine, Psychiatry
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