Voiding cystourethrogram

What is Voiding Cystourethrogram?

Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is a diagnostic test used to evaluate the lower urinary tract in boys and girls. During the test, contrast dye is inserted into the bladder and X-rays are taken at different stages as the dye is being passed out to identify any abnormalities in the urinary tract. Voiding cystourethrogram is performed to diagnose the cause of urinary tract infections (UTI), any structural abnormalities in the bladder or urethra, and to monitor the progress of an existing medical condition.

Preparing for Voiding Cystourethrogram

Your child's doctor will provide detailed instructions before the test. If your child is also undergoing a blanket X-ray, then he/she should not eat or drink anything for about an hour before the procedure. Make sure to inform the doctor about any medications that your child is taking. You may want to bring clothes to change into after the Voiding Cystourethrogram for your child.

Voiding Cystourethrogram Procedure

The voiding cystourethrogram is typically performed by a radiologist or a radiographer. When performed on an infant, it is usually performed in the delivery room with an X-ray machine. If the procedure is being done on an older child, a portable X-ray machine is used. The procedure is usually carried out in the following steps:
  • The child will be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie on a table.
  • The doctor will use a catheter to insert the contrast dye into the bladder.
  • The doctor may also ask the child to strain and push while the bladder is being filled.
  • X-rays are taken from different angles as the contrast dye flows out of the bladder.
  • The catheter is then removed and more X-rays are taken while the bladder is still filling.
The entire procedure typically takes about 20 minutes.

Types of Voiding Cystourethrogram Tests

There are two types of Voiding Cystourethrogram tests:
  • Static Voiding Cystourethrogram (SVCUG) - This type of Voiding Cystourethrogram is used to diagnose urinary reflux, bladder structure abnormalities, and to evaluate urinary tract infections.
  • Dynamic Voiding Cystourethrogram (DVCUG) – This type of Voiding Cystourethrogram is used to evaluate bladder dysfunction, such as a bladder that does not empty completely.

Reasons for Voiding Cystourethrogram

Voiding cystourethrogram is usually done to:
  • Diagnose the cause of recurring UTIs.
  • Evaluate any abnormalities in the structure or function of the bladder and/or urethra.
  • Determine if there is any obstruction in the flow of urine.
  • Check the functioning of bladder after any surgery.
  • Detect any defects of the bladder wall.
  • Monitor any existing medical condition.

Risks of Voiding Cystourethrogram

The risks associated with Voiding Cystourethrogram are minimal. This procedure is generally considered safe. The risks include:
  • The child may experience some discomfort, such as burning sensation, while the dye is being passed out during the procedure.
  • There is a risk of infection due to catheterization.
  • In rare cases, children may experience an allergic reaction to the contrast dye.

When to Consider a Voiding Cystourethrogram?

A Voiding Cystourethrogram may be recommended if your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
  • Pain in the abdomen and pelvic area.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Urinary hesitancy or difficulty urinating.
  • Frequent or recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • Feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
  • Night time wetting.
Your doctor may also recommend this test if your child has any structural abnormalities in the urinary tract, has recurrent UTIs, or if there is a need to monitor the progress of an existing medical condition.