What is a voiding cysto-urethrogram (VCUG)?

A voiding cysto-urethrogram is a test that uses X-rays and contrast liquid to take pictures of how your urine/pee leaves your body. The contrast liquid looks just like water.

Why is the test done?

These pictures will help the doctor see how well your bladder is working. The bladder is a special place in the body that holds your urine/pee.

What preparation is needed for this exam?

No preparation is needed before this exam.

What happens during the test?

  • Both parents can stay with the child during the test.
  • A doctor, radiologic technologist, and sometimes a child life specialist will be in the room with you and your child.
  • Your child will change into a hospital gown; he/she will need to take off all their clothes, underwear, shoes and socks.
  • Your child will lie on a special bed and have a blanket or sheet to cover up.
  • You will see a big machine in the room. This is just a big camera that will take the special pictures. The camera may come close to your child's body but will never touch him/her.
  • The nurse needs your child to lie a special way.
Voiding Cysto-urethrogram

A boy will need to lie on his back with his legs straight out on the table.

Voiding Cysto-urethrogram

A girl will need to lie on her back with her legs in a "froggy" or "butterfly" position.

  • The nurse will use a swab to clean where your child urinates/pees with some cold, wet soap called Chloride Prep.
  • The nurse will then slide a small tube, called a catheter, into the place in your child’s body where the urine/pee comes out. Your child will feel a tiny piece of tape put on his/her leg to hold the tube in place.
  • A bottle of liquid contrast will be attached to this small tube.
  • As the contrast fills the bladder, your child will feel like he/she needs to use the bathroom.
  • Pictures will be taken while your child lies on his/her back and sides.
  • Once your child’s bladder is full of contrast, your child will be asked to pee on the table.
  • The tiny tube will slip out while peeing. This will not hurt.
  • Please remind your child that this is just the contrast liquid, not urine/pee, coming out of his/her body and that this is okay.
  • More pictures will be taken when the bladder is empty.

What can I do to help put my child more at ease during this test?

  • Your child may hold on to a favorite toy or blanket during the test for comfort.
  • You may stay close to your child throughout the entire test, holding hands and comforting while offering praise and reassurance.
  • Some ways your child can keep calm and relaxed are to blow on a pinwheel, take slow deep breaths, sing, or read a book. Infants may be comforted by a pacifier or bottle. Older children may want to bring music or a hand held video game to play during the exam.
  • You can practice some of these relaxation techniques with your child at home.
  • Remember, your presence is a comfort to your child. Please try to plan for alternate care for siblings on the day the test is scheduled.
  • Pregnant mothers are unable to stay in the room. Please arrange for another trusted, comforting adult to be with your child during the test.

What happens after the test?

  • Towels will be placed under your child to soak up the contrast liquid.
  • You can help your child to the bathroom to wash up, dry off and put on clean clothes.
  • The radiologists will explain the results and give them to your referring physician.

Child Life Specialists are health professionals who help children and their families understand and cope with medical experiences. It is very important for both you and your child to be prepared for this test. Being prepared will help you talk to your child before the test and help you support him/her throughout the test. If you feel the need to speak with a Child Life Specialist before you child’s scheduled test, call 216.445.2683.


Development by the clinical staff, Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Institute, Cleveland Clinic

© Copyright 1995-2015 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 2/15/2015…#13618