Voiding CystoUrethroGram (VCUG)

What to Expect When Your Child Needs a VCUG

Your child’s doctor has requested a test to examine your child’s bladder, ureters and kidneys called a Voiding CystoUrethroGram, or a VCUG. Since your child trusts you most, it is important to explain what to expect during this hospital visit. For younger children, it’s best to explain right before coming in for the test.

Sometimes it is difficult to know how to describe this test to children. If you would like our help explaining what they can expect, please call a Mary Bridge Child Life Specialist at 253-403-2260.

Things to Consider

You and your child are welcome to ask any questions at anytime before, during or after the test.

On the day of the test, check in at the Radiology Department on the third floor of the Phillip Pavilion at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital/Tacoma General Hospital located at 317 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma. Free parking is available in the adjacent 5th St. Parking Garage or across the street in the Baker Center Parking Garage. Bring your ticket to the hospital main lobby information desk for validation.

We encourage and welcome your presence to provide your child with support during the test. Research has shown that parental presence during a hospital experience is important for a child’s coping. Pregnant mothers will have to wait outside or behind the shield in the room during the procedure. In this case, we ask that another familiar adult stay with your child during the procedure to help comfort them. We recommend that other siblings not be present during the test. Please make arrangements for their care ahead of time.

Please bring comfort items for your child, such as a pacifier, bottle, blanket, stuffed animal, a book or favorite toy for them to have during the test. There are no shots or needles involved in this test.

During the Test

Your child will change into a hospital gown and then lie on a special X-ray table. Your child’s privacy will be maintained through the use of sheets or towels.

After your child lies down on the table they will be asked to:

  • For girls: make frog legs or butterfly wings (knees bent out with the bottoms of their feet touching).
  • For boys: make their legs straight and rest them on the table.

Please let your child know that they have a very important job to do, and that is to lie very still.

A nurse will clean your child’s private area with a special soap and will then put a catheter (a small, thin, soft tube) into your child’s bladder through the urethra (opening where urine comes out) and tape it in place.

The X-ray camera will then be placed over your child. The camera will come close to your child but it will not touch them. The catheter will then be connected to a bottle of liquid called contrast. It will slowly fill your child’s bladder. Pictures will be taken of your child’s bladder and kidneys. Your child may feel like they have to urinate, but they need to hold it until the bladder is full.

Once your child’s bladder is full, he or she will then be asked to urinate in a bedpan, or on a pad or towels while lying down on the X-ray table. The catheter will come out when your child begins to urinate. You may need to encourage your child to urinate, as it may feel funny to do this lying down. This is how the doctor gets the best pictures of the kidneys and bladder, so it’s very important to follow these directions.

It is possible that your child may experience some discomfort during the procedure. Please tell the doctor, nurse or technologist if your child experiences pain.

After the Test

After all the pictures have been taken, your child can get cleaned up and dressed.

Encourage your child to drink extra fluids in order to urinate more frequently. This will help with any irritation or burning sensations that sometimes occur after having a catheter.

The results from this procedure will be sent to your child’s referring doctor, typically within a few days. Please contact your child’s doctor for follow-up information and to discuss any questions you may have on the findings and any recommended treatment.

Location and Parking

Mary Bridge Children's Hospital
317 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Tacoma, WA 98405

On the day of the CT scan, you may park for free in the Baker Center Parking Garage. Please be sure to bring your parking ticket in with you to the appointment for validation.

Valet Parking is available for $3.00 at the main hospital entrance on Martin Luther King Jr Way or the Philip Pavilion entrance on S 5th Street.

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions - Pediatric VCUG

 Realizacion de un cistouretrograma miccional - Pediatrico

Contact Us

To schedule an Imaging appointment, call Radiology Centralized Scheduling at 253-792-6220.

VCUG Nurse 253-403-1578