Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

After the patient's bladder is filled with a liquid called contrast material, an X-ray machine sends beams of radiation through the abdomen and pelvis, and images are recorded on special film or a computer. These images help doctors see problems in parts of the urinary system, including the bladder, urethra (the tube connecting the bladder with the outside of the body), and the ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder).

A radiologist takes the X-rays using a technique called fluoroscopy. While the contrast material fills your child's bladder, and then while your child empties the bladder, the radiologist watches an onscreen X-ray video of the liquid moving through the urinary system and a series of X-ray films is recorded.

In general, X-rays are very safe. Although there is some risk to the body with any exposure to radiation, the amount used in a VCUG is small and not considered dangerous. It's important to know that Nemours radiologists use the minimum amount of radiation required to perform the study properly.

 
What does a VCUG show?

A VCUG can show whether the urine is moving in the right direction. Normally, urine flows from the kidneys down to the bladder through the ureters. When urine goes back up toward the kidneys, it's called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), which a VCUG can detect. Sometimes VUR only occurs while urinating (voiding), which is why the VCUG includes taking X-ray images while the bladder is being emptied.

 
About Sedation

At times, fear, anxiety, and developmental stage of a child contribute to his or her ability to cooperate with medical procedures. Pediatric procedural sedation can be used to decrease discomfort and anxiety for your child.

Sedation is available for VCUG and a separate sedation appointment would be needed to be scheduled prior to the study.

Providing sedation means a child is given medicine to make the child more relaxed. When a child is sedated, he or she may better tolerate a medical procedure and will probably not remember it.

The sedation team aims for mild to moderate sedation, meaning that your child will be relaxed, but awake enough to answer questions and to sense a full bladder.Typical sedatives for this procedure include midazolam (Versed), given orally or as a nasal spray, or nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) given with a mask. This procedure takes about 10 minutes for catheter placement and bladder filling, and another few minutes for the child to urinate.

A to Z: Cystitis

A to Z: Cystitis

Cystitis (sis-TYE-tis) is inflammation of the bladder, also known as a bladder infection. It's the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI) and mostly affects children and adult women.

More to Know

Cystitis is usually caused by bacteria (typically E. coli) that enter the body through the urethra and spread to the bladder. If not treated, the infection can travel to the kidneys and become a more serious problem.

urinary tract

Cystitis can occur in people who are otherwise healthy and have no medical problems. Irritants such as bubble baths or feminine hygiene products, poor toilet or hygiene habits, an abnormality in the structure or function of the urinary tract, drug interactions, or long-term catheter use all can cause a bladder infection.

Symptoms of cystitis include a persistent urge to urinate (pee), a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, low-grade fever, and a feeling of pressure or pain in the lower abdomen.

Wetting accidents in toilet-trained children often indicate cystitis. For infants and young children, cystitis may be harder to detect because symptoms are less specific. Sometimes fever is the only sign.

Keep in Mind

Bladder infections are painful and inconvenient, but most are caused by bacteria and can easily be treated with antibiotics. If you have blood in your urine, pain with urination, back or side pain, fever, nausea or vomiting, or abdominal pain, see your doctor immediately as these are signs of a possible infection in the urinary tract.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Reviewed by:
Date reviewed: September 26, 2016