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What is a Nuclear VCU (Voiding* Cysto-Urethrogram)?

A Nuclear VCU (Voiding* Cysto-Urethrogram) is a procedure that can determine if a child has reflux — a condition where urine from the bladder goes upward back to the kidneys. This exam may be ordered after a child experiences frequent urinary tract infections.

A Nuclear VCU is obtained by the use of a radiopharmaceutical introduced through a catheter in the bladder. This exam is performed on children of all ages.

*The word void means to urinate.

Prior to the exam:

There are no special preparations for your child to follow prior to this exam.

Dress your child comfortably, in clothes that are easily removed. Your child will be given a gown to change into for the procedure.

We have a large variety of video entertainment to choose from, however, your child may also bring along his/her favorite DVD to watch during the exam.

For female patients, it might be helpful to practice the "frog-legs" or "butterfly" position. This is where the child lies on their back with their knees bent and feet together, then allows their knees fall out to the side with the feet remaining together.

Note: Parents/guardians will be allowed to accompany their child into the exam room.

When you arrive:

You must check in to Imaging Registration, on the first floor of the Benjamin Russell building 45 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.  You may have been instructed to register in one of the clinic areas.  If so, please check at those locations 1 hour prior to scan time.
Once the registration process is completed, a technologist will greet you and escort you to the nuclear medicine examination room. 

During the exam:

The bladder will need to be catheterized for this exam. Your child will need to lie on the exam table with his/her legs in a "Frog” or "Butterfly Position".

The technologist will wipe down the urethral area with three to four cotton balls soaked in "Brown Soap", which is an iodine based cleaning agent. The soap may feel a bit cool. Once the area is cleaned, a tiny tube, or catheter, will be placed into your child's bladder. Your child may feel some pressure, as well as the sensation or urge to urinate. As a relaxation technique during this process, we will ask your child to take in big deep breaths. Once the catheter is placed we will secure the tube to your child's leg with a piece or two of tape and the exam will begin.

The catheter will be connected to a bag of saline mixed with a radiopharmaceutical. The saline will flow through the urinary catheter into your child's bladder. Pictures will be taken, while the bladder is being filled. Your child will be asked to hold the saline in even though they may feel the urge to urinate. Once the bladder is full, we will ask your child to urinate while still on the table. An absorbent pad and towel will be under them in order to collect the urine.  We may need to sprinkle cool water on your child to help stimulate him/her to urinate.
Once your child begins urinating, additional pictures will be taken. After your child empties their bladder, the catheter will be removed. A few additional pictures may be obtained to complete the study. The time this exam takes may vary due to how quickly the bladder is filled and subsequently emptied. The average time is 30 to 45 minutes.

Due to the personal nature of the exam, your child may feel uncomfortable and/or embarrassed. Please assure your child that you will be with him/her the entire time.

After the exam:

There are no special instructions for your child to follow upon completion of this procedure.

Test Results:

The images from your child's exam are interpreted by a pediatric radiologist and a report is sent to your physician's office.

If your physician has any questions regarding the report, he/she may call 205-638-9730.

Question or concern about your child’s exam?