Incontinence often is an issue for women as they age, especially after having a baby. Since your uterus sits right on top of your bladder, its use over time can play havoc with the pressure placed on your bladder, causing uncomfortable or even dangerous urinary tract issues.
Urodynamics is a testing process that’s used to evaluate the health of your bladder and urinary tract. It’s vital that your gynecologist has a clear picture of your urinary functions when testing for conditions such as:
Without a proper diagnosis that your OBGYN can get from urodynamic testing, developing a treatment plan is nearly impossible.
Why Undergo Urodynamic Testing?
The term urodynamics refers to a variety of tests designed to examine how your entire urinary tract system works together. In addition to testing your bladder function, urodynamics examines your urethra and sphincters. Most of the urodynamic tests performed focus on your bladder’s ability to hold urine and how steadily you can empty your bladder. Urodynamic bladder tests also can tell your doctor whether involuntary contractions in your bladder are the main cause of urine leakage.
Your doctor may schedule urodynamic testing for a number of reasons. When other common dysfunctions are ruled out, urodynamic tests can help find a cause for complaints you may have, such as:
- Problems completely emptying your bladder
- Urinating too often
- Having strong urges to urinate that come on suddenly, but nothing comes out when you try
- Difficulty starting a stream of urine
- Painful urination
- Continuing issues with urinary tract infections
Urodynamics offers a range of tests performed when all other possible explanations have proved fruitless and you haven’t responded to normal treatments for common conditions such as overactive bladder syndrome.
Various Tests Available
Urodynamic tests available to your doctor can include such tests as having your OBGYN watch you urinate to monitor the stopping and starting of your flow as well your ability to control it. The amount of urine you produce, the time it takes to void your bladder and your ability or lack of strength to stop and start your urine stream is recorded in this basic urodynamic test.
Other tests, which may require a longer stay in the office (an hour or more), can include the use of precise diagnostic equipment. Imaging devices may be inserted into your bladder that give your doctor an inside view of what’s going on in there. A bladder pressure test can be performed with sensitive monitors inserted in your bladder. Ultimately, the most appropriate urodynamic tests you need will be decided by your gynecologist.
Specific urodynamic tests might also include:
- Uroflowmetry, which measures the speed and volume of urine you produce. This is a non-invasive test that you can do in the office, usually behind a privacy screen. To take the test, you urinate over specially designed equipment that relays the information to a computer screen.
- Cystometric test may be performed in your doctor’s office, but also in an outpatient hospital setting or clinic. You have to be given a local anesthetic. This test measures how much your bladder can store before you feel the urge to go. After you empty your bladder, it’s filled with warm water and you are asked to explain how your bladder feels. A small catheter in your bladder and one in your rectum record reactions as well. No recovery time is required and you’ll experience no side effects from this test.
- Postvoid residual measurement is a test used to measure how much urine is left in your bladder after you go. Ultrasound equipment usually is employed for this test, which is done in your doctor’s office or a radiologist’s office. No anesthesia is needed, as ultrasound creates images to produce a clear picture from the outside using a special wand rubbed over your skin.
- Pressure flow study is done to tell how much pressure your bladder needs before it signals that it’s ready to be emptied. The test also records what flow rate occurs after different kinds of pressure. This is typically done after a cytometric test, while you are still under the local anesthesia. A tool called a manometer takes the measurements as you empty your bladder.
- Electromyography is a test used if your doctor suspects your issues are caused by muscle or nerve damage. This is an outpatient procedure too that won’t require anesthesia, as sensors are placed on your skin. You may require a local anesthesia, however, if your doctor needs a closer look inside your urethra or rectum through a catheter. A special machine records the nerve impulses that are sent to your sphincter and bladder.
- Video urodynamic tests also call for the insertion of a catheter and so require local anesthesia. These tests, also done in your doctor’s office or a clinic, use ultrasound or X-rays to take pictures of your bladder as it fills and empties. The videos and pictures also can help your doctor get an idea of the shape and size of your bladder to help even more with your diagnosis.
After All the Tests
You may feel some mild discomfort after undergoing a battery of urodynamic tests. Drinking a full glass of water every 30 minutes for two hours after the tests will help you feel more comfortable. A nice, warm bath also may be recommended to help you feel more relaxed and soothe your body parts that have been probed and tested. It’s possible your doctor may prescribe a round of antibiotics just to ensure that you don’t come down with an infection.
And there’s a very good chance, if your doctor allows, for you to get many of the results of your urodynamic test immediately. It may take a few days for the results of a video test to come back and your doctor may want to review the results of all your procedures before talking to you about a treatment plan. But you’ll be much closer to a confirmed diagnosis.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult ob/gyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have questions about Urodynamics or Urodynamic Testing procedure? Would like to schedule an appointment with one of the best rated GYN doctor in NYC, Dr. Pedram Bral of Manhattan Women’s Health and Wellness, please contact our office for OBGYN consultation.consultation.
Dr. Pedram Bral, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Midtown OB GYN)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4575