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The Purpose of a Voiding Cysto-urethrogram in Detecting Urinary Problems

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 7/31/2009

Voiding cysto-urethrogram is a diagnostic test that is used to assess the health of the bladder and urethra. Learn why this test is used, how to prepare and what the results mean.

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    This test is used to evaluate the size and shape of the bladder, the bladder’s capacity, and the function of the urethra. It is commonly performed after a child has had several urinary tract infections. The voiding cysto-urethrogram can also be used to determine if urine is backing up from the bladder into the kidneys. This is called reflux.

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    There is no special preparation needed for this test and there are no dietary or activity restrictions on the day of the test. However, your child should be dressed in clothing that can be removed easily. A gown will be provided before the test begins. If you want to be in the room with your child during the test, it is best to ask ahead of time if the testing center will permit this. If you are pregnant, you will not be allowed to remain in the testing area, as x-rays can be harmful to the developing fetus.

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    During the test, your child will be catheterized to aid in voiding. This involves cleansing the urethra with iodine and placing a catheter into the bladder. This catheter is connected to a bottle of contrast material that will be put into the bladder during this test. Once the contrast is in the bladder, your child will be asked to hold it so several x-rays can be taken. Your child will then be asked to urinate and a bedpan may be provided for his or her comfort. During urination, several more pictures are taken.

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    There is very little risk involved when having this procedure done, except for the risks associated with x-rays. However, children may feel uncomfortable during the exam because of wearing a gown and being asked to urinate in front of a technician. Before the exam, discuss any concerns with your child so that you can let him or her know the importance of the test.

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    The test results will be reviewed by your child’s physician and then discussed with you. This test can help diagnose bladder reflux or abnormalities in the bladder or urethra that may be contributing to frequent bladder infections.

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