Is Cystogram Painful?

Usually, cystogram is not a painful procedure
Usually, a cystogram is not a painful procedure

Usually, a cystogram is not a painful procedure; however, a patient may complain of some discomfort during the procedure:

  • A patient may feel discomfort when the catheter is inserted. To help make it easier on the patient, some doctors may place a numbing agent around the urethra (the opening from which urine exits the body) before inserting the catheter.
  • When contrast material goes into the bladder, a patient may complain of some discomfort.
  • Some patients experience discomfort during urination immediately after the procedure. This discomfort usually resolves in less than 12 hours. If the pain increases or persists longer than two days, the doctor should be notified.

What is a cystogram?

A cystogram is a diagnostic procedure that uses X-rays to examine the urinary bladder and if there are any leakages to it. Still X-ray images or fluoroscopy (similar to an X-ray movie) may be used. A cystogram may indicate how well the bladder empties during urination and whether any urine backs up into the kidneys. Doctors may recommend cystogram to access:

  • The causes of hematuria (blood in the urine
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • The urinary system when there has been trauma to the bladder, or to assess the bladder for leaks after surgery
  • Problems with bladder emptying and urinary incontinence
  • Obstructions and strictures (narrowing) of the ureters or urethra
  • Enlargement of the prostate gland
  • Possible problems with the nerves leading to the bladder from the spine, before and/or after spinal surgery
  • For a tear in the bladder wall following an accident

Depending on the circumstances, the procedure may take around one hour to complete:

  • The patient will be asked to empty your bladder prior to the examination. Then they will be brought into the fluoroscopy room and asked to lie on the X-ray table. 
  • The genital area will be cleaned and draped with sterile towels. 
  • Some local anesthetic jelly will be used to make the examination more comfortable. 
  • A thin hollow tube called a catheter will be inserted into your urethra (the opening through which urine exits your body). 
  • The catheter will gently be advanced into the bladder. The contrast will then be put into the bladder via the catheter. As the contrast flows into your bladder, X-ray images will be taken. After the contrast has been introduced, the catheter tubing will be clamped to prevent drainage from the bladder.
  • The patient may be repositioned so that the doctor or radiologist can see the area from several angles. 
  • The X-ray equipment may also move around you in order to gain the best possible images. Once all the X-ray images have been taken, the catheter will be removed. Patients may then be asked to pass urine while further X-ray images are taken. 
  • If a patient is asked to urinate and additional X-rays are taken while the patient empties the bladder, the test is no longer just a cystogram. It’s instead referred to as avoiding cystogram.
  •  If the study is to check for a leak after surgery and a leak is found, the catheter will be left in place. If no leak is seen, the tube will be removed at the end of the study.


  • There is no special type of care required after a cystogram. 
  • Patients may resume the usual diet and activities unless contraindicated by the doctor. 
  • Patients may need to drink additional fluids for a day or so after the procedure to help eliminate the contrast from the system and to help prevent infection of the bladder. 
  • Patients may experience some mild pain with urination or notice a pink tinge to the urine for a day or two after the procedure.


  • There might be a very small risk of developing a urine infection. Patients may need to contact a doctor if they experience abdominal pain, shivers, or sweats, or if urine becomes discolored or smells offensive in the days after the procedure.
  • There might be an allergic reaction to the contrast material.
  • There might be excessive bleeding.
  • Patients may feel discomfort during urination, which may last several hours.
  • There might be an injury to the bladder or other organs.
  • There is some exposure to radiation during the procedure because X-rays are used. However, as this is a low-dose examination, exposure to radiation is kept to a minimum. Generally, the amount of radiation you are exposed to during this procedure is equivalent to between a few days and a few years of exposure to natural radiation from the environment.


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