Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is a special type of x-ray called a fluoroscopy to study the bladder and urethra. Contrast medium is injected through a catheter that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Once the bladder is filled the radiologist will remove the catheter. X-ray images will be taken while the bladder is full and as you empty it to look for any problems with the bladder and urethra.

Normally the kidneys produce urine and move it through the ureters into the bladder. When the bladder is full, a mechanism prevents urine from flowing back into the kidneys and instead moving it through the urethra. The backflow of urine is called the vesicoureteral (VU) reflux. It occurs due to problems with the valves or ureters. If mild, urine flows back to the lower ureters; if severe, urine can travel back to the kidneys and case them to swell. In some children this problem may be congenital.

  • In children, the voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is usually done to diagnose the cause of urinary tract infections, such as due to the flow of urine back into the ureters from the bladder.
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) can also be used to diagnose other issues, such as obstruction of the urinary tract before it enters the bladder, urination abnormalities due to high pressure in the bladder, inability to empty the bladder, and urinary tract infections. The vesicoureteral reflux is the cause of urinary tract infection in as many as 40% of newborns and 25% of older children.
  • Patient with suspected urethra and bladder abnormality.
  • Provides adequate information for diagnosis and treatment without harming the kidneys.
  • Risks are few and rare.
  • Avoids surgery and other invasive tests.
  • Your safety will be the highest priority during this procedure. Radiation will be limited to only what is absolutely necessary.
  • The radiation amount is small and lead sheets will be used to protect other parts of your body from radiation.
  • For children between 5 and 10 years old, the radiation used is approximately 1.6 millisievert (mSv), which is the same amount received from the environment over a period of 6 months. For younger children, the radiation amount is 0.8 millisievert (mSv), which is the amount of radiation received from the environment over a period of 3 months.
The voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) cannot detect obstruction of the ureters and additional testing may be required if the doctor suspects that may be a problem.
A voiding cystouretrogram (VCUG) is the most effective procedure to test the vesicoureteral reflux (VU), which is the flow of urine from the bladder to the ureters. If this test cannot be done, there are other options that may be comparable, such as radionuclide cystogram (RNC), which is a test of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder using radiopharmaceuticals.

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