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Voiding cystourethrogram

Definition

A voiding cystourethrogram is an x-ray examination of the bladder and urethra that is performed while the bladder is emptying.

Alternative Names

Cystourethrogram - voiding

How the test is performed

The test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in a health care provider's office by an x-ray technician.

You will lie on your back on the x-ray table. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter will be gently inserted into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) and passed into the bladder.

Contrast dye flows through the catheter into the bladder. This dye helps the bladder show up better on x-ray images.

The x-rays are taken from various angles while the bladder is full of contrast dye. The catheter is removed so that you can urinate. Images are taken while you empty your bladder.

How to prepare for the test

You must sign a consent form. You will be given a gown to wear.

Remove all jewelry before the test. Inform the health care provider if you are:

  • Allergic to any medications
  • Allergic to x-ray contrast material
  • Pregnant

How the test will feel

You may feel some discomfort when the catheter is placed and while your bladder is full.

Why the test is performed

This test may be done to diagnose the cause of urinary tract infections, especially in children who have had more than one urinary tract or bladder infection.

It is also used to diagnose and evaluate:

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Present at birth (congenital) problems with the bladder or urethra
  • Urethral stricture (in males)
  • Urinary reflux from the bladder up into the kidney

Normal Values

The bladder and urethra will be normal in size and function.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may indicate the following:

What the risks are

You may have some discomfort when urinating after this test because of irritation from the catheter.

You may have bladder spasms after this test, which may be a sign of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. Contact your health care provider if bothersome bladder spasms occur.

References

Bhayani SB, Siegel CL. Urinary tract imaging: Basic principles. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 4.


Review Date: 10/11/2010
Reviewed By: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surger, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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