When your child is scheduled for a radiology test, both you and your child may have questions about it. We encourage parents to read this information, then talk about the test with their child.

What is a voiding cystourethrogram?

This test, called a VCUG, determines how the lower urinary tract is working. The lower urinary tract includes the bladder (where urine is stored) and the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the opening in the penis).

How is the test performed?

A technologist will take you and your child into an exam room. You will see a large table and a large camera connected to a television screen. If you are not pregnant, you may stay with your child during the exam.

The technologist will ask your child to put on a hospital gown and lie on the table. An X-ray may be taken of your child's abdomen. Your child will be asked to lay flat on the table with his legs straight out. The radiologist or technologist will then wash and dry your child's penis, to make sure it is very clean.

The technologist will then insert a soft, flexible tube called a catheter into the penis and tape the tube in place. The size of the catheter is small enough to fit inside a juice box straw. As the technologist or radiologist touches your child's penis, it may feel uncomfortable to your child, but this part of the test will be over quickly.

After the catheter is in place, your child will lie under the large X-ray camera. Contrast material, a liquid that makes it possible to view the bladder, will flow from a bottle through the catheter into his bladder.

When the bladder fills, your child will feel the urge to urinate. He will be asked to say when he is very full. The radiologist will ask him to hold the liquid for a few seconds more while images are taken. Your child then will be asked to urinate onto towels or into a urinal while he is lying down. While he is urinating, the catheter will come out and the radiologist will take some more X-rays. It is important that your child stays still while he urinates, since X-rays will be taken during this time.

The radiologist will check the X-rays to make sure they are complete before you leave the facility.

How do I tell my child about this test?

Because you know your child best, explain this test to your child in a way that he will understand before you come to Children's. The staff also will explain the procedure to you and your child before and during the test.

Will it hurt?

For many children, the most important thing to know is whether or not this test will hurt. Assure your child that although there may be some discomfort, it will only last a few minutes. Remind your child that this test is being done to help the doctor find out how his body is working inside. By talking about the test with your child, you may help him be more comfortable during the test, which will make the procedure easier for your child and you.

Does my child have to do anything

different before the test?

Usually you can maintain your child's routine eating, sleeping, and medicine schedules before the test. This test usually takes about 30 minutes. There may also be different instructions if your child will have sedation or more tests, such as an IVP or an ultrasound.

Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

What can my child expect after the test?

Your child may be a little sore the next few times he urinates. This sensation is from the catheter. Assure him that the discomfort will go away, and encourage him to drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes a warm bath (plain water, no bubbles) can provide comfort. Your child may resume normal activity and diet.

General radiology requirements

  • Pregnant mothers: Women who are pregnant can/t be in the exam room. They must have a family member or friend over the age of 18 accompany their child into the examination room during the exam (with the exception of the ultrasound and nuclear medicine rooms).
  • Family or friends under the age of 18 years old: If you are not the patient and under the age of 18 years old you will not be allowed to remain in the radiology exam room during the exam.
  • Siblings: Siblings are not allowed in the radiology room while the exam is being performed (with the exception of the ultrasound rooms). Please make arrangements to have an adult accompany them in the waiting room.
  • Attire: Children wearing clothing with snaps or buttons will need to change into hospital attire. Any item such as jewelry, undergarments with metal, or EKG patches in affected area will be removed prior to the exam.