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Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

What is a voiding cystourethrogram?

A voiding cystourethrogram is a test that uses x-rays to take pictures of the urinary system. It shows how well the bladder and its connecting tubes (called the urethra and the ureters) are working.

What happens during the test?

Your child will have one x-ray film taken of the abdominal (belly) area. This is called a scout film. Then, a small urinary catheter, much like a rubber tube, will be inserted into the bladder. It is inserted through the penis in males and through the urethra in females.

After insertion, the tube is used to fill your child's bladder with contrast material (a clear liquid). More x-ray pictures are taken during this time and viewed on a television screen by the radiologist. When the bladder is full, your child will be asked to urinate and pictures will be taken of the emptying process. The catheter tube will then be removed.

The radiologist may allow you to stay during this procedure if you wish to provide comfort to your child. The use of diversional toys (such as books and bubbles) can help your child relax during the insertion of the catheter. Also, if the procedure has been explained to your child with age-appropriate teaching tools (such as books, demonstration, or use of dolls), he or she may be less afraid and respond more positively.

What happens after the test?

After the test, your child may return to normal daily activities.

Your child's urine may be pink colored the first time he or she urinates after the catheter tube is removed. Your child may even cry and complain of pressure with the first urination. This is caused by a small amount of blood in the urine. If these symptoms persist or if your child cannot urinate, call your child's doctor. Usually by drinking a couple of large glasses of water or other clear liquids (juices rather than carbonated drinks) the child can urinate without a problem. If the child complains of a mild burning, place him or her in a bathtub of warm, plain water to urinate.

When should I call my child's doctor?

Call your child's doctor IMMEDIATELY if:

  • Your child complains of severe abdominal pain.
  • Your child has a fever over 101 degrees F (38 degrees C) rectally.
  • Your child's urine is bright red.
  • Your child has not urinated 4 hours after the catheter was removed.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child continues to complain of burning with urination 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Your child continues to have pink-tinged urine.
  • You have any questions about the procedure or the results.
Written by Susie Keckley, R.N., PhD.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 1997-03-18
Last reviewed: 2006-08-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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