Direct radionuclide cystogram

Direct radionuclide cystogram test     Direct radionuclide cystogram test

What is a direct radionuclide cystogram?

A direct radionuclide cystogram, or DRC, is a test to take pictures of your child’s bladder. The test shows what happens to the bladder as it fills up and as your child urinates (pees). Sometimes the test is called a nuclear VCUG or nuclear voiding cystogram.

How is a DRC done?

A nuclear medicine technologist will do the test. They will explain it to your child step by step.

Before the test, your child will change into a hospital gown.

The technologist will then gently place a small flexible tube called a catheter in your child’s urethra (say: yoo-REETH-ra). The urethra is the opening that allows urine to flow out of the bladder.

The catheter is connected to a saline bag. This bag contains a salt water mix and a very small amount of radioactive medicine.

The bladder will be filled from the saline bag while a special camera takes pictures. The radioactive medicine will be clear in the pictures and will show what happens to your child’s bladder. Once the bladder is full, your child will urinate (pee) and the catheter will be gently removed.

The technologist will do everything they can to respect your child’s privacy and make them as comfortable as possible during the test.

How should I prepare my child for the test?

Take time to explain the test to your child in the simple words that your family uses to describe how the body works. Children who know what to expect are usually less anxious.

Your child may feel some discomfort as the catheter is placed, but remind them that they can take slow deep breaths or pretend to blow up a balloon to help themselves feel more comfortable.

Your child may want to bring something to hold during the test such as a stuffed toy or a blanket from home. In most cases, your child can also watch a movie as the test is being done.

How long will the DRC take?

The DRC takes 45 to 60 minutes.

Will I be able to stay with my child during the test?

One parent or guardian can stay in the room during the test, but no other children are allowed.

Does my child need to do anything special to prepare for the test?

No, your child can eat and drink as usual. If your child has a heart problem, however, they might need to take an antibiotic before the test. Your doctor should give you a prescription for the antibiotic and tell you how your child should take it.

Are there any side effects from the test?

For a short while after the test, your child may feel some discomfort, such as a burning feeling, when they urinate. Drinking clear fluids, such as water, will help ease any discomfort.

Does the test carry any other risks?

A DRC involves giving a very small amount of radiation to your child. The nuclear medicine team will discuss this with you when you and your child arrive for the test. You might also find it helpful to read this information about nuclear medicine from the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging.

When are the results available?

A nuclear medicine doctor will send a report to your family doctor or paediatrician (child's doctor) within one or two working days of the test. Please contact your doctor to get the results. You will not be able to get the results from the nuclear medicine technologist.

Key points

  • A DRC is a test to look at how your child’s bladder works as it is filling up and as your child needs to urinate. It takes 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Your child’s bladder will be filled with a mix of saline and a tiny amount of radioactive medicine while a special camera takes pictures.
  • Your child might feel some discomfort during the test. Use simple words to explain the test before you go to the hospital so that your child knows what to expect.
  • A nuclear medicine doctor will send the results of the scan to your family doctor or paediatrician (child's doctor) within two working days. The person who does the test cannot give the results.​
​Mandy K​ohli, Clinical Co-ordinator, Nuclear Medicine 

​At SickKids

If you have any questions or concerns about the test or if you need to change your appointment, please call the Nuclear Medicine Department at 416 813 6065.​


Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging (2013). Image Gently: Nuclear Medicine - What can I do as a parent?