Bladder Scan (Radionuclide Cystogram)

Also referred to as bladder scan, radionuclide cystogram is a diagnostic nuclear test that uses a solution containing radioactive material to outline the bladder to diagnose conditions such as reflux, distention or incomplete emptying.

The test is performed in a radiology department by a technician under a physician's supervision. Prior to this test, the patient requires no special preparation. The patient is asked to lie on a scanner table. After cleaning the urethral opening, a catheter is placed into the urethra and into the bladder. A solution containing radioactive material is instilled into the bladder until the bladder is full or the patient indicates a feeling of fullness. The bladder is then scanned and various images are taken of the bladder and kidneys. The patient may also be asked to urinate while being scanned. When testing for incomplete bladder emptying, images are taken when the bladder is full and then again after urination.

The patient may experience some discomfort during insertion of the catheter. After the scan, there may be a slight discomfort when urinating for several hours. Occasionally, some bleeding may occur from the insertion/ removal of the catheter and the urine may be slightly pink in color. While the risks are low, patients may also experience urinary tract infections from the catheter.