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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Preparing for Your Child's Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

What Is a VCUG?

A VCUG is a test done to help the doctors learn more about how your child's bladder works during urination and to see if the urine backs up into the child's kidney. Two different cameras will be used for the pictures during this procedure. 

Before a VCUG Appointment

There are no drinking, eating, or activity restrictions prior to this procedure.

What Will Happen During the VCUG?

  • You can remain with your child during the VCUG (unless you are pregnant). If you choose to remain with your child you will be required to wear a lead apron and neck shield.
  • Your child will wear only a hospital gown.
  • Your child will be asked to lie on his/her back for an x‐ray of the belly to be taken.
  • The camera will be placed above your child and he/she will need to be still for a few seconds.
  • A tube (catheter) needs to be inserted in the bladder to do the VCUG:
    • Boys will be asked to lie still with straight legs. Girls will be asked to lie still with their legs in a frog‐like or butterfly position (soles of feet together and knees dropped open).
    • Three soft, cotton swabs with cold soap will be used to clean your child's genital area.
    • A catheter (soft, flexible tube) will be lubricated and inserted into your child's bladder by an experienced nurse. Some children say this is uncomfortable, others say it hurts.
  • The technologist will move a different camera over your child's body to create a tunnel where he/she is lying. This camera will not touch your child and will take pictures during the rest of the procedure.
  • The bladder will be filled with contrast (a clear liquid) through the catheter.
  • When your child has to urinate he/she will do so while lying on the table and more pictures will be taken at this time.

What Will Happen After the VCUG?

  • After the pictures are done, the catheter will be removed.
  • Your child can go to the bathroom to get dressed and then pick a prize from the treasure box.
  • You will be informed of the results by the radiologist or your child's doctor.
  • Your child can resume normal activities immediately following this procedure.
  • Once you return home your child may complain of irritation when urinating. Soaking in a warm bath (no bubbles or soap) may help.
  • A small amount of blood in your child's urine is normal following this procedure.
  • Be sure to contact your doctor if your child develops a fever.

General Preparation Guidelines Based on Age

  • Research shows that children who are prepared in advance are less anxious and better able to cooperate during medical exams and procedures.
  • You can help your child feel prepared by answering questions using clear and honest answers based on the detail provided here.
  • We recognize that all children are individuals. You know your child best and can use this information as a guideline when preparing him/her.


  • Children 2 Years Old: Prepare him/her on the way to the appointment
  • Children 3-5 Years Old: Prepare him/her the day before the appointment
  • Children 6-10 Years Old: Prepare him/her a few days before your appointment
  • Children 11 and Older: Prepare him/her a week or two in advance