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Preparing Your Child for a Voiding Cysto-Urethrogram (VCUG)
What is a VCUG?
A voiding cysto-urethrogram (VCUG) is an X-ray test that takes pictures of your lower urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra. The pictures show how your urine (pee) leaves your body.
Your doctor may order a VCUG because your child has experienced a urinary tract infection, trouble urinating, or hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidney when urine can't drain to the bladder).
During the exam, a nurse will place a small tube (catheter) into your child's urethra (where the urine/pee comes out) up into the bladder. Through this tube, liquid contrast will flow into the bladder. Next, pictures will be taken while your child lies on the table.
How can I help my child prepare for a VCUG?
Before the exam, your child can eat and drink as usual. There is no special preparation needed.
Be sure you ask your doctor any questions you have. We strongly recommend explaining the test to children ahead of time. Here are some tips:
- Talk about the process with your child using the script below.
- Be honest.
- Help your child practice relaxing their body. Try blowing bubbles, taking slow breaths, and singing.
- Help your child pick out a few things to bring to the test, like a favorite blanket, doll, or stuffed animal. Your child can also bring a tablet or phone to play with during the text.
How can I help my child during a VCUG?
As long as they are not pregnant, two adults may stay with your child during the test. No other children are allowed in the room.
You can help by:
- Staying calm
- Distracting your child with games, music, videos, stories, and conversation
- Holding your child's hand and offering comfort
What should I know after my child has a VCUG?
- Children can return to normal activities right away.
- A little bit of pink in the child's urine (pee) is normal at first.
- Remind your child how well they did during the test. ("You did such a good job holding still!")
Our child life specialists have prepared the following script to help you explain the VCUG to your child before the test.