Radiology

VCUG (Voiding Cysto-Urethrogram)

Please be sure to read our general information about fluoroscopy before exploring the details about this procedure.

VCUG
VCUG
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What is a VCUG (Voiding Cysto-Urethrogram)?

What should you do prior to your child's exam?

What should you do when you arrive?

What should you expect during the exam?

What should you do after the exam?

Test results

What is a VCUG (Voiding* Cysto-Urethrogram)?

A VCUG evaluates a child's bladder size, shape, and capacity, as well as the urethra. The urethra is the small tube that connects the bladder with the outside of the body. This procedure can also determine if a child has reflux — a condition where urine from the bladder goes upward back to the kidneys. This exam may be ordered after a child experiences frequent urinary tract infections.

A VCUG is obtained by the use of fluoroscopy and a contrast agent introduced through a catheter in the bladder. This exam is performed on children of all ages.

* Void means to urinate.

What should you do prior to the exam?

There are no special preparations for your child to follow prior to the exam.

If your child has a noted allergy to radiographic contrast, certain preparations may be necessary.

Dress your child comfortably, in clothes that are easily removed. Your child will be given a gown to change into for the procedure.

Note: Parents will be allowed to accompany the child into the exam room, other arrangements should be made for siblings.

Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant will be asked to leave the exam room during the procedure. Please make sure that there is someone else available to accompany the child during the exam, if needed.

What should you do when you arrive for the exam?

If your appointment is scheduled at the Main Hospital:

You must check into Outpatient Registration, on the third floor of the Main Hospital, 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring with you a prescription from your doctor's office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires you to have a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, the Radiology Department will be notified. A radiologic technologist will come out to the central registration area and bring you and your child to the Radiology exam room.

If your appointment is scheduled at the Pediatric Imaging Center at King of Prussia:

You must check in at the main registration desk, located in the main waiting room, 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring a prescription from your doctor's office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, you will be directed to the Radiology waiting room. The Fluoroscopy Technologist will be notified and will come out and bring you and your child to the Radiology exam room.

What should you expect during the exam?

The technologist will ask why the VCUG is being performed and explain the procedure to you and your child. The bladder will need to be catheterized for this exam. Your child will need to lay on the x-ray table with his/her legs in a "Frog Position" or "Butterfly Position". The technologist will wipe down the urethral area with three to four cotton balls soaked in "Brown Soap", which is an iodine based cleaning agent, and one cotton ball soaked in water. The soap may feel a bit cool. Once the area is cleaned, a tiny feeding tube or catheter will be placed into your child's bladder. Your child may feel some pressure, and the sensation or urge to urinate. As a relaxation technique during this process, we will ask your child to "blow out birthday candles", or to take in big deep breaths. Once the catheter is placed we will secure the tube to your child's leg with a piece or two of tape and the exam will begin.

The catheter will be connected to a bottle of iodinated contrast material that will be visualized on the x-ray screen. The contrast material will flow through the urinary catheter into your child's bladder. The radiologist will pull the fluoro tower over your child and take several x-rays. Your child will be asked to roll side to side periodically, and told to hold the contrast in even though they may feel the urge to urinate. Once the bladder is full, the radiologist will ask your child to urinate while still on the table. (Small children and infants will probably urinate on their own.) We may supply a bedpan or a urinal, and/or sprinkle warm water on your child to help stimulate him/her to urinate. Once your child starts to urinate, more x-rays will be taken. While your child is urinating, the catheter will slide out without your child feeling any discomfort. A few additional x-rays will be obtained to complete the study. This exam, including preparation process, takes an average of 20 to 30 minutes.

Due to the personal nature of the exam, your child may feel uncomfortable and/or embarrassed. Please assure your child that you will be with him/her the entire time.

Child Life Specialists are available to answer questions you might have about how to prepare and support your child during the procedure. A child life specialist can also be present at the time of your child's appointment to explain the procedure in developmentally appropriate ways using well established preparation materials. The specialist can also be available to help implement distraction techniques to help your child better cope with the stress of the hospital experience. Please call 215-590-2001 or click the link above for more information. If your child's procedure is scheduled for the Pediatric Imaging Center at King of Prussia, you can call the Child Life Specialist directly at 215-590-3069.

What should you do after the exam?

There are no special instructions for your child to follow upon completion of this procedure.

Test results

The images from your child's exam are interpreted on the same day and a report sent to your physician's office.

If your physician has any questions regarding the report, he/she may call 215-590-2584.

Here is an example of what your child's exam may look like.

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