Fluoroscopy - Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

What is a VCUG?

A VCUG is the fluoroscopic evaluation of the bladder and urethra after they have been filled with a dye-like contrast material.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

VCUGs are most commonly used to diagnose vesicoureteral reflux, a condition characterized by the backward flow of urine from the bladder into the ureters toward the kidneys.  Other indications for a VCUG include chronic renal infections, uninary tract infections or hydronephritis.  This procedure is also performed for end-stage renal disease prior to a renal transplant.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

No special preparation is necessary before a VCUG.  Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted.

Before the procedure begins, you will be asked to change into a gown, so that no metal objects will show up on the images.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.

What does the equipment look like?

You will be positioned on an exam table.  Above you will be a box-like structure containing the x-ray tube and fluoroscopic equipment.  Underneath the examination table is a special drawer that holds a film cassette for development of still images.

How does the procedure work?

The radiologist monitors the bladder as it is filled with a dye-like contrast material  by using a fluoroscope, a device that projects radiographic images in real time onto a screen in the exam room.  The radiologist will also view the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra as the contrast is voided out of the bladder.

How is the procedure performed?

An x-ray of your abdomen will be taken prior to starting your exam.  Next, a foley catheter is inserted into the bladder, unless a catheter is already in place.  Then, a contrast material is used to fill the bladder.  Images are taken of the bladder as it fills and again when it is complete full.  The foley catheter is removed, and the technologist will position you (Usually standing) to void.  Images are taken of the bladder and kidneys as the contrast material is voided out of the bladder.  Once voiding is completed, one last image will be obtained.

The exam is usually completed within 30-45 minutes.

What will I experience during the procedure?

You may experience discomfort when the foley catheter is inserted into the bladder.  You will also experience a full sensation as your bladder is filled.  Some patients experience discomfort as a result of lying on the exam table, a hard surface that is typically quite cold.

Who will interpret the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist will interpret the images, and a signed report will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.