AUA Summit - What is a Voiding Cystourethrogram?


We have made some exciting digital upgrades! All members and customers will need to reset their passwords to access their accounts in our new system. Doing so will allow you to complete transactions and access all AUA websites, including, The Journal of Urology® and AUAUniversity, as well as all mobile apps. Reset your password now.

Centro de recursos Patient Magazine Podcast Donate

Attention: Restrictions on use of AUA, AUAER, and UCF content in third party applications, including artificial intelligence technologies, such as large language models and generative AI.
You are prohibited from using or uploading content you accessed through this website into external applications, bots, software, or websites, including those using artificial intelligence technologies and infrastructure, including deep learning, machine learning and large language models and generative AI.

What is a Voiding Cystourethrogram?

Called a VCUG or cystogram, this test shows your doctor the size of your bladder and how well it can drain.

The test is also used to pinpoint anything abnormal about the urethra and the bladder. For example, it can find a problem with the narrowing of the urethra ( stricture) or help uncover VUR ( vesicoureteral reflux), a condition in which urine flows back up from the bladder through the ureter and into the kidney.


This test is performed in a hospital or in a health care provider’s office. An x-ray technician supervised by a doctor does the job. You will need no special preparation.

First you will be asked to lie down on your back and to stay still. A basic x-ray of the abdomen and pelvis is taken. This helps the doctor decide on the best way to position the test.

Then a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put through the urethra into the bladder. Dye is placed in the bladder through this tube. You may experience some discomfort when the catheter is inserted. As the bladder fills, x-rays are taken in different positions and times.

The catheter is taken out and more x-rays are taken while you pass urine into a container. Once your bladder is empty, a final x-ray is taken. The entire test takes about an hour.


While VCUG is mainly safe, some people react poorly to the iodine based dye. This is very rare because the dye goes into the bladder and not into the bloodstream.

Minor reactions include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These are most often treated successfully with antihistamines.

More serious side effects are:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Swelling of the mouth or throat
  • Cardiac arrest

There is also a chance of a urinary tract infection (as with any use of a catheter).

The radiation exposure during this test is relatively low. But women who are or may be pregnant should tell their doctor before the test.

After the Test

You may feel slight pain when passing urine for up to 48 hours. Your urine may also be slightly pink. You can go back to daily activities as soon as the test is done. If the pain does not go away, if you have a fever, or if your urine is bright red, you should contact your doctor.

Explore Further

We're On a Global Mission!

Learn more about our global philanthropic initiatives.

Why a Clinical Trial Might Be Right for You

Learn how a clinical trial may be a good option for you with this informative video.