Children's Hospital Colorado
Imaging Services (Radiology)
Imaging Services (Radiology)
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VCUG Test at Children’s Hospital Colorado

If your child has problems urinating normally, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado may recommend a VCUG test. This test can help us diagnose issues in your child’s urinary tract.

What is a pediatric VCUG test?

A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) uses moving X-ray images, called fluoroscopy, to show how your child’s urinary tract is working. The urinary tract includes:

  • Kidneys: Cleanse the blood and make urine
  • Bladder: Holds urine
  • Ureters: Tubes that connect the kidneys and bladder
  • Urethra: The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body

Normally, kidneys release urine into the bladder. If urine flows backward from the bladder to the kidneys, it can damage the kidneys. We perform a VCUG to see if this is happening.

How should I prepare my child for a pediatric VCUG test?

  • Take time to talk with your child and explain the test.
  • Reassure your child that they’ll be safe and comfortable, and you’ll be there the whole time.
  • You may want to bring a comfort item like a stuffed animal, toy or blanket.
  • On the day of the test, dress your child in comfortable clothes that are easy to take off.

Please arrange for someone to watch your family’s other children, since siblings aren’t allowed in the exam room.

What to expect during your child’s VCUG test

Children may feel anxious about getting a VCUG because the tube goes into the urethra, which is a sensitive area of the body. Knowing what to expect can help your child feel more comfortable. The VCUG procedure will generally look like this:

Check in to the hospital

  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your child’s scheduled VCUG.
  • Bring a list of your child’s medicines and insurance card.
  • We give your child an identification bracelet to ensure they get the right test.
  • A highly trained fluoroscopy technician talks with you about the procedure.

Receive the contrast fluid

  • The technologist cleans your child’s genitals with a swab.
  • A child life specialist helps your child relax while we place a small tube (catheter) into your child’s urethra.
  • We put contrast fluid into the catheter, and it flows into your child’s urinary tract.

Take X-rays

  • The radiologist will X-ray the urinary tract. Your child can watch movies or use an iPad during this part of the test.
  • If your child feels the urge to urinate, they’ll need to hold it briefly while the doctor takes more X-rays.
  • Your child will urinate (pee) into a bedpan to allow us to take X-rays during urination. The catheter usually comes off by itself once your child pees.
  • The radiologist takes one more X-ray when the child’s bladder is empty.
  • The radiologist reviews the VCUG and sends a report to the doctor who ordered the test. We’ll follow up with you on the next steps.

What to expect after a pediatric VCUG test

Some children feel tingling or burning the first few times they use the bathroom after the test. This is normal and will go away soon. Drinking extra fluids and taking a warm bath will help.

If you have any questions and/or concerns, call the ParentSmart Healthline toll free at 1-855-KID-INFO (543-4636). Caring pediatric nurses are available 24/7 to help answer your health questions.

Why choose us for a pediatric VCUG test

As a leading pediatric hospital, Children’s Colorado specializes in children’s unique medical needs. We offer:

  • Expertise: Our skilled Imaging Services team cares for thousands of children every year. We have the training and experience to perform your child’s VCUG test. Your child also will receive age-appropriate support from our child life specialists, who specialize in putting kids at ease.
  • Specialization: A highly trained pediatric radiologist (doctor specializing in radiology for children) performs your child’s VCUG test. Our doctors have years of training and board certification in their specialties.
  • Child-friendly equipment: We use child-sized catheters to provide a safer, more comfortable experience.
  • Convenience: We offer radiology, imaging and testing at several of our locations throughout Colorado. You can filter by specialty service, city or zip code to find the test you need closest to home.

Learn more and schedule a pediatric VCUG test

For more questions or to schedule a VCUG study, contact Children’s Colorado general radiology scheduling line at 720-777-6541.

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