At Children’s Hospital Colorado, our pediatric urologists use a variety of tests to diagnose and treat bladder and urology conditions in children. We explain these procedures to each child and family. We also make every effort to help each child feel as comfortable as possible during their tests. A brief summary of tests and procedures are listed below.
Urologic diagnostic tests
- Kidney, ureter and bladder (KUB) X-ray: This test is generally used to view stool in the intestines. This is a non-invasive test, so no special preparation is needed. The test typically takes less than one minute to perform and the results will be available immediately for your child’s doctor to review. The position of your child during the test may vary, but usually they will be laying down.
- Uroflow: A uroflow test measures the flow rate, pattern and volume of the urine stream. Our healthcare providers perform this test in a private exam room. Your child will urinate into a special toilet that electronically measures the flow and force of the urine stream. Your child’s doctor will review these results and use them to help create a care plan for your child’s bladder habits.
- Bladder scan/ultrasound: A bladder scan is a non-invasive portable ultrasound instrument that measures post-void residual (PVR). PVR is the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination. Your child will lie on an exam table and the healthcare provider will put gel on your child’s abdomen. The provider will then place a small receiver on their lower abdomen to take a reading of the bladder. The test requires no special preparation, is not painful, and it generally lasts 30 seconds. Your child’s doctor will use the test results to determine if your child is fully emptying their bladder after urinating.
- Urodynamics: This test assesses the function of the urinary system in children who are unable to control urination. Some conditions that can cause this problem include spina bifida, spinal cord injury, urinary tract anomalies or VACTERL syndrome. VACTERL stands for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, trachea-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies and limb abnormalities.
- During this test, the healthcare provider will place very small catheters (tubes) into the bladder and rectum to measure pressure as the bladder fills and empties. Depending on the reason for the study, a special dye may be used to fill your child’s bladder, which then can be seen on X-ray images taken during the test. These pictures of the bladder can help your child’s doctor identify abnormal bladder structure and urine flow.
- This test may take up to 30 to 45 minutes to perform. The results from this test can help your child’s doctor diagnose a problem with urine storage or emptying. The doctor will also use the results to develop a unique care plan for your child.
- Renal/bladder ultrasound: This is a non-invasive, non-painful test that generates pictures of your child’s kidney and bladder. The healthcare provider will place gel on your child’s back and over their bladder area. The provider will use a small receiver to see the kidneys and bladder. The test is done in the Radiology Department and usually lasts around 20 minutes. The results will be immediately available for your child’s doctor to see.
- Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG): This is a minimally invasive test that is done to see your child’s internal urinary tract. This test may be used to evaluate urinary problems such as vesicoureteral reflux, posterior urethral valves, dysfunctional voiding and ureteroceles. This test is done in the Radiology Department.
- The healthcare provider will place a very small catheter into your child’s bladder through their urethra, and they will fill the bladder with a special dye. Once your child’s bladder is full, the provider will remove the catheter and your child will be able to urinate. During the filling and emptying of the bladder, X-ray pictures will be taken so the doctor can see what your child’s urethra, bladder and kidneys look like. The test typically lasts around 20 minutes and the results will be immediately available for the doctor to see.
- MAG 3 renal scan: This is a minimally invasive test that is used to determine the function of your child’s kidney. It is also done to check how well urine is draining from the kidney to the bladder. This test is most commonly used in diagnosing kidney blockage, also known as ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction.
- A healthcare provider will place an IV into your child’s vein and give a special tracer through the IV. This tracer can then be followed as it is filtered by the kidney and drains into the bladder. The test is performed in the Radiology Department and typically takes around one hour. Sometimes younger children need to be sedated because of the time required to lay still during this test.