I am a 21 year old male from Northern Ontario, Canada. When I was much younger I had several VCUGs throughout my childhood to monitor to bladder/ureter issues. I think I may have had 5-6 total, maybe a little bit more on top of standard x-rays for dental work, broken bones, etc.

I am concerned about the radiation I have received from such tests. Since this is a fluoroscopic procedure that seems to have doses as high as in many CT scans, which seems to be a current concern for many doctors. I know because the procedures were fluoroscopic, there are many variables that determine the doses and it could be anything, but realistically, or better yet-worst case scenario, is there cause concern?

I've read of many pretty horrifying stories of patients under fluoro for too long who have gotten burns and tissue damage, and may have issues later in life. What are the possibilities of these things? Would VCUG do something like that?  Would it cause sterility, even temporarily? Erythema? Burns? Possiblity of cancers?  I am really worried and can't get this out of my head.

Thanks for the help.


ANSWER: Hello, Jesse.

I don't know whether the radiation exposure you received could cause sterility. It's true that radiation exposure causes permanent damage on a cellular level and the damage is cumulative. Burns occur immediately after overexposure to radiation, so there's no danger of that for you.

Exposing female gonads is worse than exposing male gonads because females are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Males generate new sperm all the time. The chances of damaging an egg is much greater than the chances of damaging a sperm. So, I wouldn't worry too much about damaged sperm if I were you.

Only time will tell if you develop cancer from this exposure. The chances of this are low. I can refer you to the same website as Michael K. did to estimate your radiation dose: Select Fluoroscopy and use the Hysterosalpingogram exam to approximate the exposure you received during a VCUG.

Since there's really nothing you can do about prior x-ray exposure, don't fret about it. You'll make yourself crazy. Take comfort in the fact that the benefits of having the VCUGs were determined to outweigh the risks involved. You obviously needed the tests to get proper treatment.

Try to minimize your radiation exposure from now on. When x-rays are ordered for you, ask the ordering physician if this will change his treatment of your problem. If treatment of your injury or disease would be the same with or without the x-ray, decline to have the x-ray. If treatment options are dependent upon the results of an imaging exam, then the benefits outweigh the risks of additional radiation exposure and you should agree to having the x-ray.

I hope this helps,

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Delia.

One more thing: do you know if there is any chance that excessive exposure may cause spider veins or varicose veins?

Thank you.

ANSWER: From everything I've been able to find, exposure to UV rays and sun exposure can weaken the vessel walls and cause spider/varicose veins. UV is not the same as diagnostic radiation exposure.

So, my conclusion after a very brief search is that excessive diagnostic radiation exposure does not cause spider and varicose veins. This is not my area of expertise, though.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am SO sorry to bother you again, you myst be busy. Would vcug cause any kind of other organ/tissue damage?

Thanks again for your parience. It's like I remember to ask things too late.

Hello again, Jesse.

The area of radiation exposure during a VCUG includes: urinary bladder, some segments of the large and small intestines, reproductive organs, pelvis, hips and low back. All of this anatomy has accumulated radiation dose from your VCUGs. Only time will tell if you develop problems from this exposure.

Chances are very good that you will experience no harmful effects from this radiation dose. Worrying about it will only make you suffer for something that probably will never happen. Try not to be too preoccupied with this.

Hope this helps,


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Delia White


Please do not ask me to diagnose or interpret images. I am not qualified to do so. I will reject all questions asking for my interpretation of images. I am the photographer, not the physician. I cannot "read" x-rays. Please consult a physician for that information. I can tell you what to expect during most MRI, CT and X-ray procedures.


I now have more than 30 years experience in diagnostic imaging. My specialty is MRI. I am also very familiar with CT and the way we used to take x-rays (everything's digital now)!

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Radiologic Technology and am registered as an X-ray, CT and MRI Technologist.

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