What to Expect During Your Child's Voiding Cystourethrogram

This examination is usually done on an outpatient basis.

The technician begins by positioning the child on the table. Infants and young children may be wrapped tightly in a blanket or other restraint to help them lie still during the imaging.

Several X-rays are taken of the bladder. Then, after cleaning the genital area, a catheter is inserted through the urethra, a tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body, into the bladder, which is filled with a water-soluble contrast material. The catheter is then withdrawn.

The radiologist, radiology assistant and/or the technician will watch the fluoroscopic monitor while the bladder is filling to see if any of the liquid goes backward into one or both ureters. Several X-ray images of the bladder and urethra are then taken as the child empties his or her bladder. A final X-ray is taken when the child has voided completely.

It's important that your child hold very still. He/she may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the X-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image. The technician will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the X-ray machine.

When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained.

Time Consideration

A voiding cystourethrogram is usually completed within 30 minutes.

Other Factors

A voiding cystourethrogram is painless, though young children can be frightened when they are tightly wrapped and unable to move. The antiseptic used to clean and prepare for the insertion of the catheter may feel cold.

Some children may experience mild discomfort when the catheter is inserted and the bladder is filled with the liquid contrast material.

A parent is sometimes allowed to stay in the room to comfort the child but will be required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure.

Limitations of a Voiding Cystourethrogram

A voiding cystourethrogram cannot evaluate obstruction of flow of urine from the kidneys. Additional examinations are needed if obstruction is suspected.

A voiding cystourethrogram should not be performed while an active, untreated urinary tract infection is present.