Voiding Cystourethrogram

The Imaging Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital provides advanced imaging services to obtain the safest and highest quality images for your child. Caring for children of all ages, from fetal life to young adulthood, our team combines specialty expertise with a focus on each child’s individual needs to ensure the most accurate diagnostics.

A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is a fluoroscopy procedure that allows doctors to see images to evaluate your child's urinary system. This procedure uses X-rays and a contrast agent that is administered by catheter into your child’s bladder. A VCUG can also help determine whether your child has reflux - a condition where urine from the bladder goes up back to the kidneys. Your child’s pediatrician may ask for this exam if your child experiences frequent urinary tract infections.

What Should I Do Prior to the Exam?

There are no special preparations for your child to follow prior to the exam. If your child has a known allergy to radiographic contrast, notify your physician so certain preparations can be made.

The day of the exam, we’ll ask that you:

  • Dress your child comfortably in clothes that are easily removed
  • Bring a snack or drink for your child to have after the exam
  • Let the technologists know if your child takes certain medications, has allergies, has had surgery, may be pregnant, or has any health condition.

You or both parents or guardians can stay with your child in the X-ray room and will be given a lead apron for your safety. Pregnant women will be asked to stay in the waiting room for their safety.

One of our technologists will explain the procedure to both you and your child. A Child Life Specialist will also be available to help you prepare and support your child during the procedure.

What Should I Expect During the Exam?

This exam, including preparation, takes an average of 20 to 30 minutes.

Your child’s bladder will need to be catheterized for the VCUG. During this time, your child may feel some pressure, and the sensation or urge to urinate. We will use different relaxation techniques to makes sure the catheter is properly placed.

The catheter will be connected to a bottle of iodinated contrast material that will be visualized on the X-ray screen. The contrast material will flow through the urinary catheter into your child's bladder. From here, the radiologist will take several X-rays, with your child rolling side to side periodically, and holding the contrast agent.

Once the bladder is full, the radiologist will ask your child to urinate during which more X-rays will be taken. This will also allow the catheter to easily slip out.

Due to the personal nature of the exam, your child may feel uncomfortable. The best way to comfort your child is to be present in the exam room the entire time. A Child Life Specialist will also be available at your child's appointment to explain the procedure in an easy way and to help your child better cope with the experience.

After the Exam

There are no special instructions for your child to follow when the procedure is over. Your child may experience sensitivity the first time they urinate after the test. This is a normal sensation due to being catheterized. Allowing your child to sit in a warm tub of water will help soothe them. This feeling of sensitivity should be brief and not cause long term discomfort. If your child experiences any lingering discomfort, please contact your physician for further help.

Test Results

Our SLUCare Physician Group radiologists will interpret the images the same day and send a report to your child's doctor. It may take several days for your doctor to view the report and make clinical decisions on the next step. Please call your child’s doctor with any questions you may have about the results.

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, we look forward to caring for your child. With an experienced staff and state-of-the-art imaging technology, you can count on us to deliver the excellent care your child needs. To schedule your appointment today, please call 314-577-5652.

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