Your doctor has requested that you have a cystogram. We hope the following information will answer some of the questions you may have about this procedure.

What is cystogram?

This is an examination of the bladder using X-ray dye to show the structure and shape of the bladder and occasionally the micturating (emptying) of the bladder.

Why do I need a cystogram?

It may be that you have had symptoms such as bladder infections, blood in the urine, problems with incontinence (leaking urine) or other symptoms which suggest that you may have a problem with the structure of the bladder. This examination is also used following recent bladder surgery or bladder injury.

Icon of a pregnant woman

What preparation is required?

No preparation is required before a cystogram; you can eat and drink as normal. There is no requirement to stop taking any regular medications.

The procedure uses X-rays and the amount of radiation used is very low, however if you think you may be pregnant please inform the department before attending the appointment.

During the cystogram there is a chance of the X-ray dye passing around the outside of the catheter to the skin surface, this is known as bypassing around the catheter. This may require a change of underwear.

What will happen during the examination?

  • You will arrive at Gate 18 and a member of the Imaging team will take you through to the fluoroscopy waiting room.
  • A radiographer will discuss the procedure with you. You will be given an opportunity to ask questions. If you are happy to proceed you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will also be asked about your relevant medical history, including any allergies you may suffer from.
  • You will then be asked to lie on the X-ray table on your back.
  • If you already have a bladder catheter in situ, we will disconnect the bag and attach our bottle of X-ray dye to your catheter.
  • If you do not have a catheter we will place one inside your bladder. 
  • X-rays are then used to image the filling bladder as the dye is slowly introduced through the catheter.
  • Depending on the information your referring doctor requires, occasionally we will remove the tube and then move the table to a standing position so that we are able to take X-rays as you urinate the dye into a container.

The procedure normally takes between 20 to 30 minutes but please allow an hour for the appointment.

Please be assured we will do our best to maintain your dignity and privacy throughout this procedure.

Are there any risks or side effects to the examination?

The cystogram is a safe examination.

  • An allergic reaction to the X-ray dye is extremely rare.
  • As with any bladder catheterization there is a small risk of infection. Following this examination, if you find it painful with increased urgency in urinating or if you have a temperature, please contact your GP or NHS 111 as a course of antibiotics may be required.
  • If catheterization is required during the examination you may experience discomfort urinating, it usually resolves in less than 12 hours. Your urine may also be slightly pink after the test but it is not anything to worry about. You should see your GP or contact the NHS 111 service if you experience any bleeding or difficulties with passing urine.

Will the examination be painful?

A cystogram may cause a little discomfort during catheterization. In addition as the X-ray dye is introduced your bladder will start to feel full, if the feeling of “fullness” becomes unbearable please inform the radiographer during the procedure.

What about aftercare?

At the end of the examination the majority of the X-ray dye will have been removed from your bladder, however the X-ray dye we use is sticky. It washes off easily.

Following the examination, you will be able to continue with your normal everyday activities including going back to work.

Is there an alternative examination?

Patients referred for this test may also be referred for a cystoscopy to look at the structure of the urethra and bladder. A cystogram however, provides information on how the bladder behaves as it fills and can demonstrate reflux (back flow of dye) from the bladder up the ureters towards the kidneys.

When will I get the results?

You will not get an indication of the result at the time of the examination, as analysis of the images will take place after you have left the department.

The radiographer and a radiologist (specialist imaging doctor) will report on your examination at the earliest opportunity then make a written report. This will be sent to the doctor who requested the examination. Allow 7-10 days for the doctor to receive the report.

Privacy and dignity

At North Bristol NHS Trust we are committed to providing the best possible experience for patients, ensuring the need for privacy and dignity in a safe, caring environment. We will treat every patient as an individual and respect their cultural values and beliefs.

Sometimes tests, although necessary, can be embarrassing or undignified for patients but we will do our best to do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit to the department.

A chaperone will be available for the examination if required as per the North Bristol Trust chaperoning policy.

We hope that the information in this leaflet will answer any questions you may have.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us on the number in your appointment letter. 


North Bristol Trust (2010) Privacy and Dignity policy

Royal Surrey County Hospital Foundation Trust (2014) Patient Information leaflet, “Cystogram”

North Bristol Trust (2019) Chaperoning Policy

How to contact us

Telephone: 0300 555 0103

If you or the individual you are caring for need support reading this information please ask a member of staff for advice.

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