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Lurie Children’s Specialists Make Urology Testing More Comfortable for Kids

March 25, 2022

When children with bladder abnormalities or frequent urinary tract infections undergo testing at Lurie Children’s, they have access to an efficient and comfortable experience thanks to a unique protocol developed by medical imaging, pediatric urology and child life specialists.

The teams redesigned the process for procedures known as Voiding Cystourethrography (VCUG) and Contrast Enhanced Voiding Urosonography (CEVUS). While essential for an accurate diagnosis of some bladder-related issues, the VCUG and CEVUS testing can be uncomfortable for children because it involves inserting a catheter into the child’s bladder with a radiologist capturing images of the bladder as it fills and empties. Furthermore, the child must urinate during the exam.

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Dr. Diana Bowen, Attending Physician of Urology (left) and Dr. Ellen Benya, Section Head of Ultrasound (right)

To make the experience more tolerable for children and their caregivers, the teams redesigned the process to include child life specialists when needed to provide developmentally appropriate support with procedure preparation and therapeutic play opportunities to decrease anxieties associated with medical procedures and being in a health care setting. In the case of the VCUG and CEVUS testing, a child life specialist prepares the child and family for the exams in advance of the appointment day through a series of phone and/or video calls. The child life specialist then joins the patient and family on the day of the test to provide emotional support.

"This program is so necessary as it allows us to obtain important diagnostic information while providing psychologic safety for the child undergoing these particular tests. As providers it is such a relief to know that our patients and their parents will be supported and guided through the process with an individualized approach," says Dr. Diana Bowen, Attending Physician of Urology.

Additionally, at many children’s hospitals, VCUG, which uses ionizing radiation or X-rays, is the only test that is used to detect bladder related issues. But Lurie Children’s imaging team can also perform CEVUS exams to detect VUR — without using radiation.

Dr. Ellen Benya, Section Head of Ultrasound, says, “The newly developed Contrast Enhanced Voiding Urosonogrpahy (CEVUS) Program in the Department of Medical Imaging at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago allows for the safe and accurate detection of vesicoureteral reflux using a completely radiation free technique.”

In many cases, these tests are checking for a diagnosis of vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), which is a relatively common condition in which urine backs up from the bladder into the kidneys. In a small number of kids, often those who experience frequent UTIs, VUR can cause permanent kidney damage if left untreated. Making this testing more accessible and easier to undergo means more children can avoid permanent damage and get the preventive care they need.

For more information or to make an appointment with Lurie Children’s Pediatric Medical Imaging, please call 312.227.4500.

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