A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is a test that uses x-rays to take real-time images of the urinary system. It shows how well the bladder and its connecting tubes (the urethra and the ureters) are working. VCUGs are done using our fluoroscopy x-ray monitor, which shows continuous x-ray images on a screen.
We will provide some distraction devices for your child during this examination. However, children are encouraged to bring their favorite stuffed animal or toy with them to the test.
Before the Procedure
There are no food or drink restrictions for your child prior to this test. Before you and your child come to the hospital for your test, use simple language to explain to your child what they should expect during the test.
We understand that certain tests can be scary for some children. A child life specialist is a trained professional who helps children and their families understand and normalize the hospital environment. These professionals offer positive coping strategies such as bubbles, movies and books to help the child relax during an exam.
To request a child life specialist for an examination, please call 312.227.3270.
During the VCUG
A technologist will greet you and your child, and they will have your child change into a gown. One parent is encouraged to accompany the child.
We start the exam by taking an initial picture of the abdomen. Your child will be asked to lie down on a bed and to position their legs like a butterfly. The technologist will wash between the legs with cotton ball and brown soap. This might feel a little cold.
The technologist will then put a tiny tube called a catheter into your child's bladder through a small opening called a urethra. A catheter is a small, flexible tube that gives the contrast a pathway to get into the bladder. The urethra is the small opening in the body where urine comes out. It is important to tell your child to try to hold as still as they can.
Once the tube is in the bladder, all of the urine will come out the tube. When the bladder is empty, the VCUG will begin.
The technologist will fill your child's bladder with a liquid called barium contrast that will make the picture of their bladder clear. The contrast is a safe substance used to visually enhance internal body structures. Children need to hold very still when the camera takes the picture. The doctor may have your child roll onto both their left and right sides. This helps us see any issues within the urinary system.
When the bladder is full of contrast, your child will feel like they have to go to the bathroom. At this point, the child needs to tell the technologist when they can't hold it any longer. The doctor will tell them to go ahead and urinate. It's important to urinate then so the doctor can watch their bladder empty. This allows the radiologist to see if there are any abnormalities. There will be towels, a bed pan or a urinal to catch the liquid. The catheter tube will be removed as soon as the picture is taken.
After the Test
When the test is over, your child can clean up and get dressed in the bathroom before you go home. Your child can return to school as soon as they feel up to it.
After the diagnostic study has been reviewed by the radiologist, the results will be reported directly to your referring physician. Your referring physician will discuss the findings and the plan of care with you.