Watch this video to learn how to prepare your child for a VCUG (Voiding Cystourethrogram), a diagnostic test performed by a radiologist that examines the tubes, called ureters, that connect your child's bladder to their kidneys. The test also examines how well your child's bladder is working. It's a great idea to prepare your child for this procedure in advance so they know what to expect when they arrive.

Know Before You Go: Kids

What is a Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)?

A VCUG is a video x-ray of your bladder.  This video helps your doctor see how well your bladder and kidneys are working.  The bladder is the part of your body that holds your pee.

What will happen during my VCUG?

You will be asked to put on a hospital gown and take off your pants, underwear, shoes and socks.  You will lie on the bed when it is time to take your pictures.  The bed will have a sheet and pillow.  You can also ask for a blanket to help keep you covered.

Once the technologist is ready to begin you will be asked to:

  • For girls: Make frog legs or butterfly wings with your legs
  • For boys: Make your legs straight

Your job is to lie very still and take slow, deep breaths.  The technologist will use brown soap to clean the area where you go pee.  The technologist will then put a small tube in the hole where you pee.  The small tube slides in easier if you are relaxed and taking slow, deep breaths.  After the tube is in, a small piece of tape will be put on the tube to hold it in place.

The technologist will use the small tube to put special water into your bladder.  This water helps the doctor see how your body is working on a TV screen.

The camera will move over the top of you but will not touch or hurt you.  The camera makes humming and clicking noises whenever it takes your picture.  You may be asked to turn your body from side to side to have your pictures taken.

As the special water fills your bladder you will start to feel like you have to pee.  The doctor wants you to hold it until your bladder is very full.  When the doctor says it’s okay, you will pee onto towels while you are lying down.  It may feel funny to pee on the bed but this is how the doctor gets pictures of your body working.  While you are peeing, the tape will be taken off and the small tube will come out.

As soon as you are done going pee, you are all finished!

Know Before You Go: Parents

Helpful Info

Caregivers are able to remain in the room with their child as long as they are not pregnant. Your child may bring comfort items from home, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. 

Parent Role

You can help your child stay calm and relaxed by remaining calm yourself. One parent is welcome to stand at the head of the bed. We encourage you to talk to your child and provide comforting touch during the exam.  You can help your child relax his/her muscles by taking deep breaths together.

Important Notes

You know your child best and know how much information they can handle.  Talking with your child about this exam prior to arriving is important and beneficial in reducing anxiety.  If you would like to speak to a child life specialist to discuss your child’s coping during this appointment, please call 314.454.6139.  The technologist completing the exam can also page Child Life the day of your appointment for additional support.

Practice Tips:

  • Begin talking with your child about peeing on the x-ray table as this can be a challenging task.  Remind your child that this is okay and they will not get in trouble.
  • Have your child practice going to the bathroom in the bathtub while lying down.  This can help make it easier to pee on the day of the exam.
  • Practice taking deep breaths with your child.  Make this into a fun game by blowing bubbles or a pinwheel!