Cystogram: Radiology

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A cystogram (SIS-toe-gram) is done by taking X-ray pictures of the urinary bladder. ("Cysto" means bladder.)

The letters VCUG stand for "voiding cystourethrogram." This test shows the size of the bladder and how it is working.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • Explain to your child ahead of time what will happen during the test. The technologist will help you with this the day of the appointment. The test can be less stressful if you talk to your child about the procedure before coming to the hospital. A Child Life Specialist may also be present for support.child having cystogram
  • Your child may eat and drink before having a cystogram unless the test is scheduled as a sedation study. For an infant you may bring a bottle or baby foods.
  • Do not let your child urinate right before the test. A urine sample may be taken when the catheter is placed in the bladder.
  • You may accompany your child into the Fluoroscopy room.
  • Your child will need to remove his or her clothes and put on a hospital gown.
  • Your child will be catheterized (have a tube put in the bladder) for this test. The genitals will be cleaned with wipes and betadine soap.
  • A numbing lotion (lidocaine gel) will be put on the area where the urine normally comes out. (Boys will have a small amount of the lidocaine gel squirted into the penis.) This does not hurt and will help make your child more comfortable during the test. It will also reduce any discomfort the child may have when urinating after the catheter is out.
  • The tip of a soft plastic tube (catheter) will be put into the bladder. This may feel a little uncomfortable when it goes in. It will be less uncomfortable if your child is relaxed and can hold still. Having the child take deep breaths and blow air out while the catheter is inserted will help reduce the discomfort. The technologists and doctors do this test often and are skilled at helping children cope with the experience.

How the Test Is Done

  • The tube will be left in place until the end of the exam.diagram of urinary track
  • Your child will lie on a long table with an X-ray camera above it (Picture 1). The camera will not touch or hurt the child. The camera may make a clicking noise.
  • A radiologist will put a clear liquid (contrast solution) into the catheter. This liquid makes the urinary bladder show up on the X-rays when the pictures are taken (Picture 2). It will drip into the urinary bladder until it is full. This may get a little uncomfortable (your child may feel the need to urinate) as the bladder fills.
  • As the bladder fills, the radiologist will take X-ray pictures of your child lying in different positions.
  • A bed pan will be placed under your child. The child then urinates while on the X-ray table. This pushes the catheter out. An X-ray will also be taken while the child empties his bladder.
  • After your child is finished urinating, one more X-ray picture will be taken and the test will be over.
  • The test takes about 30 to 45 minutes. 

After the Test

  • Your child may feel some discomfort when urinating. This may last a few hours. Drinking more liquids and having the child urinate often will help reduce the uncomfortable feeling. Your child may eat his usual foods and return to normal play.
  • The test results will be sent to the ordering physician (the doctor who ordered this test). The doctor may contact you about the results.

If you have any questions about your child’s test, be sure to ask the doctor or technologist or call the location where the test was scheduled.

If you would like more information about how to prepare your child for this exam, please contact the Fluoroscopy Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital at (614)-722-2298.

Cystogram: Radiology (PDF)

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