A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is an X-ray test. It takes pictures of your child's bladder and urethra while he or she urinates. 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 child's bladder works. Or it may be used to find the cause of other problems, such as frequent urinary infections.
A doctor called a radiologist does the test. A person trained to take X-rays may help the doctor. He or she is called an X-ray technologist.
To do the test, the doctor or nurse puts a thin, flexible tube in the opening of your child's urethra. This tube is called a catheter. Then he or she guides the catheter into your child's bladder. Next, the doctor or nurse puts a liquid that shows up well on X-ray pictures into your child's bladder through the catheter. This liquid is called contrast material. When your child's bladder is full of contrast material, the doctor or X-ray technologist takes X-rays. Some of them may be in different positions. These include standing, sitting, and lying down. After that, the catheter is removed and your child urinates into a bedpan, urinal, or towel. This empties the contrast material from your child's bladder. While your child urinates, more X-rays are 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.
Some children may feel embarrassed to urinate in front of other people. 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. A nurse or nurses may need to hold your child still while the doctor puts the catheter in and takes the X-rays.
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. If your child drinks lots of fluids, it can 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 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: August 12, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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