What is cystography?
Cystography is an imaging test that can help diagnose problems in your bladder. It
uses X-rays. They may be X-ray pictures or fluoroscopy, a kind of X-ray movie.
During cystography, the healthcare provider will insert a thin tube called a urinary
catheter and inject contrast dye into your bladder. The contrast dye will let the
provider see your bladder more clearly. They will take X-rays of the bladder. Cystography
is sometimes combined with other procedures. For example, cystourethrography images
the bladder and the urethra. The provider may also use fluoroscopy to watch how the
bladder empties while you urinate (voiding cystourethrography). Cystography may show
whether any urine backs up into the kidneys (vesicoureteral reflux). CT cystography
is sometimes used following trauma or recent surgery.
X-rays use a small amount of radiation to create images of your bones and internal
organs. X-rays are most often used to find bone or joint problems or to check the
heart and lungs. Cystography is one type of X-ray.
Why might I need cystography?
You might need cystography to find out the cause of:
Blood in your urine (hematuria)
Urinary tract infections that keep coming back
Problems emptying your bladder
Urinary reflux, when urine flows back into 1 or both ureters and, in some cases, to
1 or both kidneys
Other reasons that you may need cystography:
Trauma to the bladder. The test will let your healthcare provider see if you have
a tear in the wall of your bladder.
A blockage in or narrowing (strictures) of the ureters or urethra
Before or after certain spine surgeries. This will let your provider see possible
problems with the nerves leading to the bladder from the spine.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend cystography.
What are the risks of cystography?
You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during
the test. Also ask about the risks as they apply to you.
Consider writing down all X-rays you get, including past scans and X-rays for other
health reasons. Show this list to your provider. The risks of radiation exposure may
be tied to the number of X-rays you have and the X-ray treatments you have over time.
Tell your provider if:
You're pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Radiation exposure during pregnancy
may lead to birth defects.
You're allergic to or sensitive to medicines, contrast dyes, local anesthesia, iodine,
You have kidney failure or other kidney problems
You're at risk for a bladder infection because a thin tube (catheter) is put into
your bladder during the test. The catheter may also cause bleeding or hematuria.
Certain things can make the results of the test less accurate. These include:
You may not be able to have cystography if you:
You may have other risks depending on your specific health condition. Be sure to talk
with your provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.
How do I get ready for cystography?
Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you. Ask them any questions
you have about the procedure.
You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives permission to do the procedure.
Read the form carefully and ask questions if anything is not clear.
You may need to stop eating and drinking before the test. Your provider will give
you specific instructions. Generally, this means no food after midnight and only clear
liquids the day of the test. You may be told to drink additional clear liquids the
day before and day of the procedure.
Tell your provider if you're pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
Tell your provider if you have had a reaction to any contrast dye or if you're allergic
Tell your provider if you're sensitive or allergic to any medicines, latex, tape,
or anesthetic medicines (local and general).
Tell your provider about all medicines you're taking. This includes prescriptions
and over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements.
Tell your provider if you've had a bleeding disorder. Also tell your provider if you're
taking blood-thinning medicine (anticoagulant), aspirin, or other medicines that affect
blood clotting. You may need to stop these medicines before the test.
Tell your provider if you have kidney disease.
You may be told to take a laxative the night before the test. Or you may be given
an enema or medicine to make you have a bowel movement the morning of the test.
Follow any other instructions your provider gives you to get ready.
What happens during cystography?
You may have a cystography test as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital.
The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare
Generally, a cystography follows this process:
You'll be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that might get in
the way of the test.
You'll be asked to remove clothing and given a gown to wear.
You'll be asked to empty your bladder before the test.
You will lie on your back on the X-ray table.
The healthcare provider will put a thin tube (catheter) into your bladder. They'll
use this to inject the contrast dye into the bladder.
The provider will take an X-ray of the kidney, ureter, and bladder to make sure they
can see the urinary system. For men, the provider may put a lead shield over the testes
to protect the gonads from the X-rays.
The provider will inject the contrast dye into the bladder through the catheter. They'll
clamp the catheter tubing to keep the dye from draining out of the bladder.
The provider will take X-rays while the dye is injected and afterward. You may be
asked to change position for different X-ray views of the urinary system.
If you're having a voiding cystography, the provider will remove the catheter and
you'll be asked to urinate. The provider will take X-ray or fluoroscopy films while
you urinate. You may be allowed to sit or stand if you're not able to urinate while
If you're not having a voiding cystography, the provider will remove the catheter
after all the X-ray views have been taken.
What happens after cystography?
You don't need any special care after a cystography. You may go back to your usual
diet and activities, unless your healthcare provider tells you differently.
You should drink additional fluids for a day or so after the test. This will help
the contrast dye flush out of your system. This will also help prevent a bladder infection.
You may have mild pain when you urinate. Or you may see a pink color in your urine
for a day or two after the test. This is normal.
Call your provider right away if any of these happen:
Your provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how you will get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure