This diagnostic test is commonly performed in male patients in whom trauma or narrowing of the urethra is suspected.
This test is performed in a hospital radiology department, operating room or in a health care provider's office by an X-ray technician under a physician's supervision. There is no special preparation required. The patient lies on his side and a preliminary film of the urethra and bladder is obtained prior to injection of a contrast agent (dye). This helps the physician determine the proper radiographic technique and patient positioning. Dye is injected directly into the urethra and X-rays are obtained.
The patient may experience some discomfort during injection of the dye. After the study, there may be a slight discomfort when urinating for up to 48 hours and the urine may be slightly pink but the patient can resume their daily activities immediately following this test. If discomfort persists, fever develops or urine appears bright red, a physician should be notified.
While a urethrogram is considered generally safe, the major risk involves a reaction to the iodine-based dye. Minor reactions include hot flashes, nausea and vomiting. These are usually treated successfully with antihistamines, drugs that reduce the effects of the body's inflammatory compound, histamine. In very rare circumstances, more severe complications — breathing difficulties, low blood pressure, swelling of the mouth or throat and even cardiac arrest — can occur. There may be additional problems like a urinary tract infection.
Reviewed January 2011
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