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What is a Bladder Scan (Radionuclide Cystogram)?

Also called a bladder scan, this test uses a liquid with radioactive material to outline the bladder.

This test can:

  • Pinpoint health issues such as VUR (vesicoureteral reflux, when urine flows back from the bladder through the ureter to the kidney)
  • Swelling
  • Incomplete emptying

Procedure

Male Urinary Tract
Male Urinary Tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

Female Urinary Tract
Female Urinary Tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

The test is done in a radiology department by a technician under a doctor’s supervision. No special preparation is needed.

You will be asked to lie on a scanner table. After the urethra is cleaned, a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) is placed through and into the bladder.

The liquid with radioactive material is moved through the tube to fill the bladder and you feel the fullness. The bladder is then scanned, and images are taken of the bladder and kidneys.

You may also be asked to urinate during the test. If the doctor is looking at how the bladder empties, images are taken when the bladder is full and then again after it’s emptied.

Risks

You may have some pain when the catheter is used. There is also a small chance of a urinary tract infection (as with any use of a catheter).

After the Test

You may feel some pain when you urinate for a few hours after the test. There may also be some bleeding so your urine may be a little bit pink.

More Information

  • Why do you think this test will help me?
  • Could I have an allergic reaction to the contrast agent?
  • What other tests will I need for diagnosis or treatment?
  • If a problem is found, what are my next-steps?