Tests Used to Identify UTIs in Children
Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)
A VCUG is a test that examines the urethra and bladder while the bladder fills and empties. In a VCUG, a liquid that can be seen on x-rays is placed into the bladder through a catheter. The bladder is filled until the child urinates. This test can reveal abnormalities of the inside of the urethra and bladder, and it can also determine whether the flow of urine is normal when the bladder empties.
An intravenous pyelogram is a test that examines the whole urinary tract. A liquid that can be seen on x-rays is injected into a vein and travels into the kidneys and bladder, revealing possible obstructions.
These tests use radioactive materials that are usually injected into a vein to show how well the kidneys work, the shape of the kidneys, and whether urine empties from the kidneys in a normal way. Each kind of nuclear scan will give different information about the kidneys and bladder. Nuclear scans expose a child to about the same amount of radiation as a conventional x-ray.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
These tests provide 3-D images and cross-sections of the bladder and kidneys. With a typical CT scan or MRI machine, the child will need to lie on a table that slides inside a tunnel-like tube where the images are taken. If the child's infection is complicated or difficult to see in other imaging tests, a CT scan or MRI can provide clearer, more detailed images to help the doctor understand the problem.