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Johns Hopkins Children’s Center

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Radiographic Studies

Have questions about how to prepare for or support you child through an imaging study? A Child Life specialist is available to answer your questions and help prepare your child for any of the following radiographic studies. Using age-appropriate timing, language and preparation strategies, a Child Life specialist can help you and your child have the most positive experience possible. Please call 410-955-9652 to contact the Urology Child Life specialist.


This test is done to outline the kidneys and bladder. It allows for kidney measurements and the detection of any enlargement of the collecting system of the kidney, or hydronephrosis. This test is not invasive. It involves the placement of gel on the abdomen followed by placement of a probe to picture the kidneys and the bladder. The ureters are normally not imaged on ultrasound.      


Voiding Cystourethrogram

This X-ray test provides important information about the structure of the bladder and urethra (the tube through which urine passes from the bladder during the urination), and it allows for the detection of reflux (backflow of urine from the bladder to the kidneys through the tubes that connect the kidney and the bladder). To perform the test, a small tube is passed through the urethra to the bladder. The bladder is filled through that tube, and X-rays are taken as the bladder fills and then as the bladder empties. The test is not painful, but catheterization has some pain associated with it. Your child can read a book during the test. The result of the test is available for discussion with your urologist.

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Cystogram

This test, like the voiding cystogram, is useful for detecting ureteral reflux. However, it does not provide the urologist with a picture of the bladder or urethra. It involves passing a small tube into the urethra through which a special fluid is used to fill the bladder and image the activity.

Nuclear Renal Scan

This test is used to evaluate how well the kidneys function and how well they drain. It provides the urologist with a picture of the kidneys over a period of time, and each of these pictures can be quantified by the computer and give a graph that is useful in determining if there is an obstruction in the kidney or in the ureter. The amount of radiation involved is much less than in a conventional intravenous pyelogram study IVP.

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