Retrograde Cystography

(Cystography - Retrograde)

Procedure overview

What is retrograde cystography?

Retrograde cystography is a diagnostic procedure that uses X-rays to examine the urinary bladder. X-rays are made of the bladder after it has been filled with a contrast dye. Contrast refers to a substance taken into the body that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen more clearly. This examination allows the doctor to assess the bladder's structure and integrity.

During retrograde cystography, contrast dye is injected into the bladder. X-rays are taken of the bladder while it's filled with contrast and after the contrast has drained out of the bladder. Retrograde cystography may show rupture of the bladder, as well as other bladder conditions such as tumors, blood clots, or diverticula (pouches in the wall of the bladder).

What are X-rays?

X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film. X-rays are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays pass through body structures onto specially-treated plates (similar to camera film) and a "negative" type picture is made (the more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film).

Other related procedures that may be used to diagnose problems of the bladder include kidney, ureters, and bladder (KUB) X-rays, CT (computed tomography) scan of the kidneys, kidney scan, renal angiogram, renal ultrasound, cystography, pyelogram (intravenous, antegrade, and retrograde), cystoscopy, cystometry, and uroflowmetry. Please see these procedures for additional information.

How does the urinary system work?

The body takes nutrients from food and converts them to energy. After the body has taken the food that it needs, waste products are left behind in the bowel and in the blood.

The urinary system keeps the chemicals, such as potassium and sodium, and water in balance, and removes a type of waste, called urea, from the blood. Urea is produced when foods containing protein, such as meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys.

Urinary system parts and their functions:

  • Two kidneys. A pair of purplish-brown organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. Their function is to remove liquid waste from the blood in the form of urine, keeping a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood, and produce erythropoietin, a hormone that aids the formation of red blood cells. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure.

    The kidneys remove urea from the blood through tiny filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a ball formed of small blood capillaries, called a glomerulus, and a small tube called a renal tubule. Urea, together with water and other waste substances, forms the urine as it passes through the nephrons and down the renal tubules of the kidney.

  • Two ureters. These narrow tubes carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Muscles in the ureter walls continually tighten and relax forcing urine downward, away from the kidneys. If urine backs up, or is allowed to stand still, a kidney infection can develop. About every 10 to 15 seconds, small amounts of urine are emptied into the bladder from the ureters.

  • Bladder. The bladder is a triangle-shaped, hollow organ located in the pelvis. It's held in place by ligaments that are attached to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder's walls relax and expand to store urine, and contract and flatten to empty urine through the urethra. The typical healthy adult bladder can store up to two cups of urine for two to five hours.

  • Two sphincter muscles. These circular muscles help keep urine from leaking by closing tightly like a rubber band around the opening of the bladder.

  • Nerves in the bladder. The nerves alert a person when it's time to urinate, or empty the bladder.

  • Urethra. This tube allows urine to pass outside the body.



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