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  • Definition

    A cystogram uses contrast material to create pictures of the:
    • Bladder
    • Ureters—tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
    • Urethra—the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside of the body
    The Urinary Tract
    The Urinary Tract
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Reasons for Procedure

    A cystogram helps your doctor gain more information about the urinary system. For example, if you are having urine leakage, your doctor may be able to find the cause.
    A cystogram can also be used to diagnose conditions like:
    • Vesicoureteral reflux —urine flows from the bladder back towards the kidneys
    • Bladder distention—enlargement of the bladder
    • Bladder irregularities, such as bladder cancer and incomplete voiding
  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the test are rare. However, all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
    • Urinary tract infection due to the catheter being inserted
    • Bleeding due to the catheter being inserted
    • Discomfort during urination, which may last several hours
    • Allergic reaction to the contrast material
    Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
  • What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure
    There are no special steps to take before a cystogram. However, it is important that you tell your doctor if you:
    • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • Have a cold or the flu , or have recently been around people who are sick
    • Are allergic to contrast material
    • Take diabetes medication
    Description of the Procedure
    You will be asked to lie on a table. A catheter will be inserted into the urethra and positioned into the bladder. A contrast material will be inserted through the catheter and into the bladder to fill it. When your bladder is full, x-rays will be taken of the ureters, bladder, and urethra. You will be asked to remain still while the images are taken. You may also need to move into different positions.
    If your doctor needs to see how your urethra is functioning, you may be asked to urinate into a bedpan while x-rays are taken. Additional images may be needed after you have emptied your bladder.
    The catheter will be removed during the procedure.
    How Long Will It Take?
    About 1 hour
    Will It Hurt?
    You may have some discomfort when:
    • The catheter is placed into the urethra
    • The contrast material goes into the bladder
    Post-procedure Care
    At the Care Center
    You will be able to go home after the test.
    At Home
    Your doctor should have the results in a few days. Be sure to follow-up with your doctor.
  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of these occur:
    • Blood in the urine that lasts longer than expected
    • Discomfort during urination that lasts longer than expected
    • Pain
    • Fever
    • Inability to urinate
    If you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

    National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

    Urology Care Foundation


    Canadian Urological Association

    Health Canada


    Cystogram. Children’s Hospital of Chicago website. Available at: Accessed MArch 3, 2016.

    Cystogram. PeaceHealth website. Available at: Accessed March 3, 2016.

    Schedule test: cystogram, voiding cystouretrhrogram or incontinence cystogram. PennMedicine website. Available at: Accessed March 3, 2016.

    Your urinary system and how it works. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) website. Available at: Updated January 2014. Accessed March 3, 2016.

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