Retrograde cystography is a detailed x-ray of the bladder. Contrast dye is placed into the bladder through the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
You will lie on a table. A numbing medicine is applied to the opening to your urethra. A flexible tube (catheter) is inserted through your urethra into the bladder. Contrast dye flows through the tube until your bladder is full or you tell the technician that your bladder feels full.
When the bladder is full, you are placed in different positions so that x-rays can be taken. A final x-ray is taken once the catheter is removed and you have emptied your bladder. This reveals how well your bladder empties.
The test takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
You must sign an informed consent form. You must empty your bladder before the test. You will be asked questions to determine if you may have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye, or if you have a current infection that could make inserting the catheter difficult.
You may feel some pressure when the catheter is inserted. You will feel an urge to urinate when the contrast dye enters the bladder. The person performing the test will stop the flow when the pressure becomes uncomfortable. The urge to urinate will continue throughout the test.
After the test, the area where the catheter was placed may feel sore when you urinate.
You may need this test to examine your bladder for problems such as holes or tears, or to find out why you have repeated bladder infections. It is also used to look for problems such as:
The bladder appears normal.
Abnormal results may be due to:
There is some risk for infection from the catheter. Symptoms may include:
The amount of radiation exposure is similar to that of other x-rays. As with any radiation exposure, nursing or pregnant women should only have this test if it is determined that the benefits outweigh the risks.
In males, testicles are shielded from the x-rays.
This test is not performed very often. It is most often done along with CT scan imaging for better resolution. Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) or cystoscopy is used more often.
Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.