Cystogram: Nuclear Medicine

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A cystogram (SIS-toe-gram) is done by taking pictures of the child's urinary bladder (Picture 1). ("Cysto" means bladder.) This test shows the size of the bladder and how it is working.

How to Prepare for the Test 

  • Explain to your child what will happen during the test in a way he or she can understand. 
  • Your child may have food or liquids while he is waiting to have the test, unless the doctor says not to. For an infant, you may bring a bottle. 
  • Do not let your child urinate right before the test. A urine sample will be taken after the catheter is in the bladder.

Having a Cystogram

diagram of urinary system in body

  • Your child will need to remove his clothes and put on a hospital gown.
  • In the Nuclear Medicine Department, your child will lie on his back on a padded table. Most children under 8 years of age must be helped to hold still. This is done using a “papoose board.”
  • The child lies on the “papoose board” and wide cloth straps are placed over the chest, stomach and legs (Picture 2). This does not hurt but it holds the child very still for the pictures and keeps him or her from falling off the table. 
  • The genital area will be cleaned with a cleansing cloth and cotton balls moistened with soap. 
  • A numbing lotion called Lidocaine gel will be put on the area where urine comes out. 
  • For boys a small amount is squirted into the tip of the penis. This will not hurt. The gel will make your child more comfortable when the catheter is placed. It will also reduce any burning your child may have when urinating after the catheter comes out. 
  • Next, your child will have a soft plastic tube (catheter) placed into the bladder. This may hurt a little when the tube goes in. It will hurt less if your child is relaxed and can hold very still. The catheter will be left in place until the end of the test. Then the technologist will remove it. 
  • Next your child will be placed in the middle of a big donut-shaped camera. The camera will not touch or hurt your child.
  • With the catheter in place, the technologist will begin filling the bladder with fluid. image of having a cystogram
  • A small amount of radioactive material will be placed in the fluid as the bladder is filling. This material has been measured and is safe. The fluid and radioactive material make the urinary bladder show up on the screen as pictures are taken. 
  • Your child may get a little uncomfortable during the filling process as the bladder becomes full. 
  • Once the bladder is full, your child will need to urinate while lying on the table. A girl will urinate into a bedpan that is placed under her bottom. A boy will be given a urinal to use. 
  • We may need to do the filling and urinating part of the test a second time.
  • This test takes about 1 hour. Parents may stay with their child during the test. 
  • If your child has a favorite video, you may bring it to the hospital with you. A TV and VCR are available.

After the Test

  • Your child may eat his usual foods and return to normal activities. 
  • Your child may feel some burning when he urinates. This feeling may last a few hours. 
  • Encourage your child to drink a lot of liquids to help reduce the burning feeling. It takes about 1 or 2 days for the test results to be completed.
  • When the results of the test are ready, the doctor, who ordered the scan, will discuss with you the plan for medical care.

Cystogram: Nuclear Medicine (PDF)

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