What is a Pediatric Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCU)?

A pediatric voiding cystourethrogram (VCU) is an X-ray exam of a child’s bladder and lower urinary tract. It takes pictures of the inner lining of the bladder and urinary tract. A liquid contrast dye is used for the exam. The exam is usually recommended after a urinary tract infection.                                                                                                                                            

Explanation and Causes

Urine is produced in the kidneys and flows through the ureter. The ureter is a tube that carries urine from each kidney to the bladder. A valve prevents urine from backing up into the kidneys as the bladder gets full. Urine passes out of the body through another tube, called the urethra. In some children, a valve or the ureter allow urine to flow backwards. This condition is called VU reflux. In mild cases, urine backs up into the lower ureter. In severe cases, it can back up into a kidney. Usually, children with this condition are born with it. Other causes include:

  • Blockage to the bladder 

  • Unusual urination with very high pressure within the bladder 

  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder 

  • Urinary tract infections

Note: Urinary tract infection may be the only symptom of the problem.

How Do I Prepare for the Exam? 

There is no prep for this exam. Before your procedure bring to HUMC your child's insurance information, personal identification, prescription for the exam and any prior studies and reports for comparison to today’s scan.

Your child will be asked to wear a hospital gown during the exam.

Other Reports

Please be sure to provide HUMC with any films and/or reports from other facilities that relate to today’s exam.

What Happens During the Exam?

The technologist begins by positioning the child on the table. Infants and young children are wrapped tightly in a blanket to help them lie still during the test. Parents are permitted to be present during this procedure.

The urethra is cleaned with a special liquid called betadine. A plastic tube called a catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. In boys, the tube is passed through the penis. The contrast dye is placed into the bladder through the catheter. The radiologist will watch the monitor while the bladder is filling. The radiologist can see if any liquid backs up into one or both ureters. Several pictures of the bladder and urethra are taken as the child urinates and empties his/her bladder. A final X-ray is taken when the child has completely emptied his or her bladder and the catheter has been removed.

What Happens After the Exam?

The contrast dye is clear. Therefore, when the child empties his/her bladder you will not see any trace of the dye. Your child can return to normal activities and usual diet, unless told otherwise by your doctor. 

When Do I Get the Results?

The radiologist reviews and compares your previous exams with your new exam. The radiologist sends a report to your doctor. Contact your doctor in a few days for the results.

About Our Staff and Equipment 

The equipment of Hackensack Radiology is maintained in excellent condition. All of our equipment meets federal government standards.

Radiologists who are certified by the American Board of Radiology operate our radiology center. Our technologists are licensed by the State of New Jersey and are certified by The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. With top-tier certifications and licenses given to its staff, our Radiology Department is able to provide quality services to patients in Northern New Jersey and beyond.

Survey and Contact Information 

You may receive a survey by mail. We are asking for feedback on how we can improve our services and care. Please take a few minutes to reply. We would appreciate your input in order to provide the highest quality of care.  

If you have any questions, please call our Radiology Department at 551-996-2245.

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