A voiding cystourethrogram is an x-ray examination of the bladder and urinary tract. This procedure can detect causes of urinary problems and is often used to look for signs of a condition called vesicoureteral (VUR) reflux. Doctors may order a voiding cystourethrogram if your child has significant hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidney) and/or a series of urinary tract infections (UTIs), both of which are symptoms of possible VUR.
During a voiding cystourethrogram, a technician inserts a catheter to fill your child's bladder with a contrast liquid. This allows the doctor to see what is happening within your child's bladder and lower urinary tract.
The procedure normally takes a half hour or less and requires little preparation on the part of the patient. Your child should not require sedation unless you wish to discuss that option with your doctor. Tests without sedation are more informative because they more closely represent your child’s normal bladder function.
There is little if any pain during the procedure, and results should be available to your doctor within a day or two. The technicians do not share results immediately after the test, but your doctor will call you to discuss them or may talk to you the same day.
The procedure should be short, safe and relatively comfortable for your child. When it is time to begin, a technician takes your child into the x-ray room. You may stay with your child during the test. If you do, you will need to wear a special lead covering.
Your child will lie on a table while a technologist inserts a catheter to his or her urethra. Your child's bladder fills with the contrast material. Once it is full, your child will pee. The x-ray captures that process on film so the doctor can see what happens in the bladder and urinary tract. This filling and emptying cycle may be repeated to improve the diagnosing ability of the test. Once the x-ray is finished and the catheter is removed, the test is complete. The entire process should not take more than a half hour in most circumstances.
Preparation is simple for children and their families. As always, you should make sure your doctor knows any allergies your child may have. You can prepare your child for the examination by explaining what he/she can expect. Your child will wear a special gown during the procedure, but there is no need to fast or wear any special kind of clothing.
This test is usually an outpatient procedure and does not require much rehabilitation. If your child has discomfort during urination after having the test, you should encourage him or her to drink extra fluids for a few days.
Your doctor will probably schedule an appointment to discuss the results. It is possible that a follow-up exam may be necessary to interpret questionable results.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This National Institutes of Health website offers information and links related to urinary and kidney conditions.
This organization supports pediatricians and offers information for parents on diagnosis and treatment of urologic conditions through their website, HealthyChildren.org.
This organization has ties to the American Urological Association and advances research and education in urological care, working with healthcare providers, patients and caregivers. Their website provides recent information on urologic conditions.
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