What is a VCUG?
VCUG is the short form for Voiding Cystourethrogram. A VCUG is a test that takes X-Ray pictures of your bladder, and the tubes that connect your bladder and your kidneys (ureters and urethra).
This test is called a Voiding Cystourethrogram because voiding means peeing,
Cysto means bladder, Urethr means the tubes connected to your bladder (urethra and ureters), and Gram means recording what is shown (taking a picture). Altogether, that means that X-Rays are taken to show how your pee moves through the tubes that are connected to your bladder and kidney.
Why do I need to have a VCUG?
The doctor needs to look inside your body to see how your bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra is working. An X-Ray is used to take the pictures. You may have been getting infections, so the doctor needs to find out what is happening with your bladder.
What does a VCUG look like?
When you go to have a VCUG, you will see a special bed where you will be lying down. There will be an X-Ray machine and a TV screen. The TV screen lets the x-ray technologist, doctors, and nurses see how your bladder and ureters are working.
There will be a tall pole that has a bottle with clear fluid in it, this fluid is called contrast. Contrast is like a highlighter, it highlights areas of your body to make them bright and stand out so that the doctors can see everything really clear on the pictures.
A catheter is used, which is a small thin bendy tube. This is used to put the contrast into your bladder.
What happens when I have a VCUG?
If you are staying in the hospital a porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the VCUG. If you are coming from home, you and your family will go to the special room to have a VCUG. A nurse or x-ray technologist will greet you and explain what will happen.
The nurse or x-ray technologist will give you a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one. You will be asked to take off your underwear so that it does not get wet. The nurse or x-ray technologist will help you to get up on the bed. The nurse or x-ray technologist will ask you to bend your legs and bring your feet up close to your body like frog legs.
The nurse or x-ray technologist will put a blanket over your legs to keep you warm and make sure you are covered. The nurse or x-ray technologist will then clean your private area between your legs with a special soap to make it very clean. This may feel wet and very cold.
The nurse or x-ray technologist will then gently slide a catheter (a small thin tube) into your bladder. The tube will be taped with soft tape to the side of your leg to help keep it in place so it will not fall out. When the catheter is going in, it may feel a little funny, you may feel a pinch or it may hurt a little. This is the hardest part, once the catheter is in your bladder the test can start.
Remember to take in deep breaths; this will help to relax you. When you are relaxed, your whole body is relaxed including all your body parts. If your body is relaxed, the small tube will slide into your bladder easier.
There will be a pole with a bottle hanging from it close to the bed. The bottle has liquid in it called contrast. The contrast highlights the areas that the doctors need to look at, it makes the areas show up bright in the pictures. The contrast will move through the tube and fill your bladder. If you are able to see the TV, you will be able to see your bladder filling up.
Once your bladder is full, you may feel like you have to go pee, but it is very important to hold it, until the nurse or x-ray technologist tells you that it is time to pee. If you are having a hard time holding your pee, let the staff person know. The nurse or x-ray technologist will then tell you to pee on the bed. This may seem funny, but this is a special bed that you are allowed to pee on. When you start to pee, the X-Ray will start taking pictures of your bladder to see how it is working.
While the pictures are being taken, the lights in the room will be turned down. This will make the pictures clear. You may also hear a noise like a hum from the machine taking the pictures. When the pictures are being taken, it is important to remember to lay still. This will help to make the pictures clear and not fuzzy.
Once all the pictures have been taken, the x-ray technologist will remove the small tube and give you towels for you to clean up, and you will be able to go back to your room if you are staying in the hospital or go home. The next few times you pee after the test, you may feel a little sore, but it will go away soon.
What will the VCUG feel like?
? When the nurse or x-ray technologist cleans your private area between your legs with a special soap to make it very clean, it may feel wet and very cold
? When the nurse or x-ray technologist gently slides the catheter (a small thin tube) into your bladder it may feel a little funny, you may feel a pinch or it may hurt a little. This is the hardest part, once that is over the test can start
? When the contrast starts going into your bladder you may feel like you have to pee, but it is very important to hold it, until the nurse or x-ray technologist tells you that it is time to pee. If you are having a hard time holding your pee, let the nurse or x-ray technologist know
? When the nurse or x-ray technologist tells you to pee on the bed, it may feel warm and a little sticky from the contrast that was put into your bladder.
Preparing for the test
Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your VCUG. Your mom or dad can go into the room with you.
When it is time for the test, remember to relax and take deep breaths.
If you have any questions about the test, always ask!
What is a Cystoscopy?
A Cystoscopy is a test that takes pictures of your bladder and urethra, the tube that carries your urine (pee) from the bladder to outside your body. The doctor uses a tiny camera and a light to look around and take pictures of inside your bladder to see how it is working. The cystoscope is like a telescope, helping the doctor to look at your bladder and urethra. This test is called a Cystoscopy because cysto means bladder and scopy means scope (to look for something). The scope is a tiny camera with a light that looks around and takes pictures.
Why do I need to have a Cystoscopy?
The doctor needs to see inside your bladder and urethra to see how it is working and to find out what they need to do to help you. An X-Ray cannot see inside these body parts, so a Cystoscopy has to be done. You may be having a hard time peeing or have been getting infections, so the doctor needs to find out what is happening with your bladder.
What does a Cystoscopy look like?
A Cystoscopy has a tiny video camera (scope) and a light at the end of a small very flexible tube. The light helps the doctor to see inside your body. The video camera can take a video or pictures of inside your bladder and urethra. These pictures will help the doctor to see what is happening inside your bladder. There is also a bed where you will lie down.
What happens when I have a Cystoscopy?
If you are staying in the hospital a porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the Cystoscopy. If you are coming from home, you and your family will go to the area where you will have the Cystoscopy. A nurse will greet you and explain what will happen.
The nurse will give you a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one. The nurse will help you to get on the bed.
The nurse will put a blanket over you to help keep you warm and make sure you are covered. For this test, you will be sleeping. It is a special kind of sleep where you will not feel, hear or see anything while the doctor does the test. A small mask will be placed over your nose and mouth, this will give you special sleep air medicine that will make you fall asleep. Remember this is a different sleep from what you do at home, you will not feel, hear or see anything while you are sleeping.
While you are asleep the doctor will use the cystoscope to look in your bladder and urethra. The doctor will gently slide a scope into your urethra and into your bladder through your private area on your body. Remember, you will be sleeping so you will not feel anything happening.
After the doctor has finished taking the pictures he needs, the scope will be taken out and you will be brought to the recovery room. The recovery room is where you will start to wake up. You will be able to rest a while; you may still feel a little sleepy. The doctor may ask you to pee. Sometimes after having a cystoscope, when you pee you may feel a little burning and may see some red in your pee, this is just a little blood. This is NORMAL and will go away. You can help it to go away by drinking a lot of water.
What will the Cystoscopy feel like?
Preparing for the test
Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your Cystoscopy.
You will be told that you will not be able to eat or drink anything before the test, because you will be having sleep medicine. If you have food in your stomach when you get the sleep medicine you may feel sick and throw up.
Sometimes before the test, the doctors will ask you to pee in a special cup with a lid. Your pee can also give the doctors information about how your bladder is working.
If you have any questions about the test, always ask!
This content has been reviewed and approved by health care team members at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. All content is for educational purposes only. For further information, please speak with your health care team.