Voiding Cystourethrogram

A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is a test which uses X-rays to take pictures of the urinary system.

It shows how well the bladder and its connecting tubes (the urethra and the ureters) are working.

  • Before you come to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen in words that he/she can understand. For younger children, explain only right before the test. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain this test to children. If you would like help, please call a child life specialist at 513-636-8034.
  • You and your child may ask any questions at anytime before, during or after the test.
  • You are encouraged to stay with your child during the test. Children are usually more cooperative and less apprehensive when a loved one is with them. You will wear a lead apron for your protection. However, if you are pregnant, you will have to wait outside the room.
  • Please bring comfort items, such as a pacifier, bottle, blanket, stuffed animal, book or favorite toy for your child to have during the test.
  • It is recommended that siblings stay with another caregiver so that you can be with your child.
  • There are no shots or needles involved in this test.
  • This test usually lasts about 30 minutes. 
  • Your child will change into a hospital gown and then lie on a special X-ray table, resting on a pillow. Your child's privacy will be maintained through the use of sheets or towels.
  • A nurse or technologist will clean the opening where your child's urine comes out and then slide a small, thin, soft tube or catheter into your child's bladder through that opening. The tube or catheter will be secured with a piece of tape.
  • Your child will need to lie still while the catheter is placed and during the X-ray pictures. It is often difficult for young children to hold still for this procedure. Our staff will assist and support your child in holding still.
  • A large camera will come above and across your child in order to take pictures. The camera may come close to your child but will never touch your child.
  • While your child is lying on the table, an X-ray technologist or doctor (radiologist) will be taking X-ray pictures.
  • A special clear liquid called contrast will be used to fill your child's bladder through the catheter. This "special water" can be seen on the X-ray pictures.
  • When your child's bladder is full, he/she will urinate, into a urinal, container, pads or towels, while still having pictures taken on the X-ray table. Your child may be asked to urinate with the catheter still in place so that the doctor can refill your child's bladder if more pictures are needed.
  • As your child urinates for the final time, the tape will be removed, and the catheter removed.
  • You may stay close to your child during the entire procedure, holding hands, talking and providing comfort.
  • It is possible that during the procedure your child may experience some discomfort. Please tell the doctor, nurse, or technologist if pain occurs.
  • After all the pictures have been taken, your child may be cleaned with washcloths and towels and then get redressed. There is a private restroom in the X-ray room for you to use.
  • Your child may return to normal daily activities.
  • After having a urinary catheter (tube), your child's urine may appear pink the first time he/she urinates. This is caused by a small amount of blood in the urine. This is normal, but if it happens for longer than 24 hours or your child has difficulty urinating, call your child's pediatrician.
  • After the test, encourage your child to drink extra fluids in order to urinate more frequently. This will help with any irritation or burning sensations that occasionally occur after having a catheter.
  • The results from this procedure will be sent to your child's doctor usually within 24 hours. Please contact that doctor for follow-up information.

Last Updated 06/2012