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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.



Reviewed January 2011

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Radionuclide Cystogram Glossary
  • bladder: The bladder is a thick muscular balloon-shaped pouch in which urine is stored before being discharged through the urethra.

  • catheter: A thin tube that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to allow urine to drain or for performance of a procedure or test, such as insertion of a substance during a bladder X-ray.

  • cyst: An abnormal sac containing gas, fluid or a semisolid material. Cysts may form in kidneys or other parts of the body.

  • cystogram: An X-ray examination of the bladder utilizing contrast material injected into the bladder.

  • infection: A condition resulting from the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms.

  • ions: Electrically charged atoms.

  • kidney: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • kidneys: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • radioactive: Relating to or making use of radioactive substances or the radiation they emit.

  • radionuclide: Radioactive nuclide.

  • radionuclide cystogram: A test using a radioactive material that is placed in the bladder to evaluate the structure of the bladder and processes inside.

  • reflux: Backward flow of urine. Also referred to as vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). An abnormal condition in which urine backs up from the bladder into the ureters and occasionally into the kidneys, raising the risk of infection.

  • reflux: Backward flow.

  • stent: With regard to treating ureteral stones, a tube inserted through the urethra and bladder and into the ureter. Stents are used to aid treatment in various ways, such as preventing stone fragments from blocking the flow of urine.

  • urethra: A tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. In males, the urethra serves as the channel through which semen is ejaculated and it extends from the bladder to the tip of the penis. In females, the urethra is much shorter than in males.

  • urethral: Relating to the urethra, the tube tha carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.

  • urinary: Relating to urine.

  • urinary tract: The system that takes wastes from the blood and carries them out of the body in the form of urine. Passageway from the kidneys to the ureters, bladder and urethra.

  • urinary tract infection: Also referred to as UTI. An illness caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or yeast growing in the urinary tract.

  • urinate: To release urine from the bladder to the outside. Also referred to as void.

  • urination: The passing of urine.

  • urine: Liquid waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder and expelled from the body through the urethra by the act of urinating (voiding). About 96 percent of which is water and the rest waste products.

  • urology: Branch of medicine concerned with the urinary tract in males and females and with the genital tract and reproductive system of males.

Radionuclide Cystogram Anatomical Drawings

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