A radionuclide cystogram is a special imaging tests called a nuclear scan that involves placing radioactive material into the bladder. A scanner then detects radioactivity to check bladder and urinary tract functions.
The specific procedure may vary slightly depending on the reason for the examination (reflux, distention, incomplete emptying, or others).
You will lie on the scanner table. After cleaning the urinary opening, the health care provider will place a thin flexible tube, called a catheter, through the urethra and into the bladder. A solution containing the radioisotope is delivered into the bladder until the bladder is full (or you say that your bladder feels full).
Depending on the suspected problem, the timing of scan varies. The bladder may be scanned while full. You may be asked to urinate into a urinal, bedpan, or towels while being scanned.
To test for incomplete bladder emptying, images may be taken with the bladder full, then you will be allowed to get up and urinate into the toilet and return to the scanner. Images are taken immediately after emptying the bladder.
There is no special preparation needed. You will need to sign a consent form. You will be asked to wear a hospital gown. Remove jewelry and metal objects before the scan.
You may feel some discomfort when the catheter is inserted. Catheterization and urination in public -- sometimes, when lying on the table -- may be difficult or embarrassing. You cannot feel the radioisotope or the scanning.
After the scan, you have feel a slight discomfort for 1 or 2 days when you urinate. The urine may be slightly pink. If you have persistant discomfort, a fever, or bright red urine, contact your health care provider.
This test is done to see how your bladder empties and fills. It can be used to check for urine reflux or an obstruction in urine flow.
A normal value is no reflux or other abnormal urine flow, and no obstruction to the flow of urine occurs. The bladder empties completely.
Abnormal results may be due to:
- Abnormal bladder response to pressure -- could indicate a nerve problem or other disorder
- Urethral obstruction -- most commonly related to an enlarged prostate gland
- Vesicoureteric reflux (backflow of urine)
Risks are the same as for x-rays (radiation) and catheterization of the bladder.
There is a small amount of radiation exposure with any nuclear scan (it comes from the radioisotope, not the scanner). The radiation is very mild, and virtually all radiation is gone in a short time. However, any radiation exposure is discouraged for women who are or might be pregnant.
Risks for catheterization include a risk for causing a urinary tract infection and the risk (rare) of damage to the urethra, bladder, or other nearby structures.
This test is very useful to provide information about how the bladder responds to pressure, without exposure to radiographic contrast materials.
Reviewed By: Stuart Bentley-Hibbert, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Radiology, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.