First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, testing, treatment, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Voiding Cystourethrogram
A voiding cystourethrogram (say "sis-toh-you-REE-throh-gram") is a test that is done to see if there are problems with the urinary system and to see how urine flows out of the bladder. This test, also called a VCUG, uses contrast fluid and X-rays so the doctor can see how the bladder fills and drains.
A VCUG can show if urine from the bladder is flowing back up toward the kidneys. This is called vesicoureteral reflux, or VUR.
For this test, a thin, flexible plastic tube called a catheter is placed through the urethra into the bladder. A contrast liquid flows through the catheter to fill the bladder. X-rays are taken while the bladder fills and then empties. The catheter slips out or is removed once the bladder is empty.
This test is done to:
Having a test can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your test.
This test usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.
This test isn't painful and you won't feel anything when the X-rays are taken.
You may find it somewhat uncomfortable when the catheter is inserted and while it's in place. You will have a feeling of fullness in your bladder and an urge to urinate when the contrast liquid fills your bladder.
You may be a little sore afterward from the catheter. If so, soaking in a warm tub bath may help.
After the test, you may also feel a slight burning when you urinate. This can happen when a little of the contrast liquid remains in the bladder. Drinking enough liquids will flush this out of your bladder and stop the burning feeling within a day or so.
A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) usually doesn't cause problems. Once in a while, this test may lead to a urinary tract infection. If the contrast material is injected with too much pressure, there is some chance of damage to the bladder or urethra.
There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels used in this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the benefits of the test.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to the contrast material.
Some results may be available immediately after the cystourethrogram. Final results are usually available within 1 to 2 days.
The bladder appears normal.
Urine flows normally from the bladder.
The bladder empties all the way.
The contrast material flows evenly out of the bladder through a smooth-walled urethra.
Bladder stones, tumors, narrowing or pouches in the wall (diverticula) of the urethra or bladder are seen in the bladder.
If the test was done because of possible injury to the bladder, a tear is found in the bladder wall or urethra.
Urine flows backward from the bladder into the ureters (vesicoureteral reflux).
Contrast material leaks from the bladder.
The bladder does not empty all the way.
The prostate is enlarged.
Current as of:
October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineAvery L. Seifert MD - Urology
Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Avery L. Seifert MD - Urology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.