A retrograde cystogram is a procedure allowing the bladder to be x-rayed after it is filled with x-ray contrast dye.

The procedure is commonly used to assess if the bladder has healed after surgery. The bladder is filled with x-ray dye using a urinary catheter inserted in the urethra, or in some cases, the patient may already have a surgically inserted suprapubic catheter.

Retrograde cystograms are done by a radiologist with a radiographer and sometimes a nurse present. Your images will be looked at by a radiologist who will provide a written report for your doctor. Sometimes, the radiologist will speak to you in person during the examination.

This procedure is available at the following Jones Radiology locations:


You will lie on your back on an x-ray table. If you already have a urinary catheter, it will be used for the test. A new catheter is not needed. If you do not already have a urinary catheter, a specialist nurse or radiologist will need to put one in.

To insert a urinary catheter, the nurse or radiologist will begin by carefully cleaning the genital area with a specific antiseptic wash. A sterile drape (a piece of cloth) is used to cover your groin and surrounding area. A small amount of anaesthetic gel is applied to the urethral opening to minimise discomfort. A urinary catheter is then inserted in the tip of the urethra until it reaches the bladder. A small balloon is inflated to hold it in place.

The catheter bag will be removed, and a syringe or drip-line that is filled with x-ray dye is connected. The radiologist will fill the bladder until you start to feel full. X-rays are taken as the bladder is filled. Once there is sufficient dye in the bladder, the radiologist and radiographer will ask you to move into various positions to assess your bladder on x-ray at different angles. Once the x-rays are taken, the dye is drained via the syringe or drip bottle. The catheter bag is then reconnected.

Risks / Side Effects

Retrograde cystograms are safe procedures.

In some cases, a small amount of blood may be seen in the urine after the procedure. If this continues for longer than 24 hours, consult your referring doctor.

If x-ray contrast is administered, there is a small risk of an allergic reaction. A mild allergic reaction occurs in 1/1000 injections and includes a rash, hives or sneezing. More severe reactions such as difficulty breathing are less common. Severe life-threatening reactions are extremely rare (1 in 170,000).

While there is a small risk of urinary tract infection, this is minimised by doing the procedure under sterile conditions and following strict infection control practices.

Before your Scan

You will be asked to change into an examination gown for your safety and comfort and to make sure your clothing does not affect the images.

You can eat and drink before and after the procedure. If you are on any regular medication or have diabetes and are on insulin, take your usual medication and diet.

Please inform us if you are on medication to thin your blood (e.g. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel), have an iodine allergy, or are pregnant.

Other Information

After the procedure, you will able to go to the toilet, freshen up with towels provided, and get changed back into your clothes.


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