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Urodynamics is the name given to a number of tests designed to see how your bladder functions. The main test is called cystometry, which measures your bladder’s ability to store and pass urine. It also checks for any leakage or incomplete bladder emptying
Urinary problems, especially incontinence, may affect women of any age. Urinary problems usually increase with age, pregnancy, childbirth, and the onset of menopause.
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of urine while coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising
- Sudden and/or frequent need to pass urine
- Getting up at night frequently to pass urine
- Difficulty in emptying your bladder
- Recurrent bladder infections
Results from urodynamic tests allow your doctor to understand the reason why you have the symptoms you have, and so offer you the best treatment for your problems.
Not everyone with bladder symptoms will need to have urodynamics. If simple conservative management such as altering your fluid intake, pelvic floor exercises and/or medicine fails, then urodynamics is the best way to test your bladder function and treatment tailored to your particular problem.
You will normally be asked to attend for the tests with a comfortably full bladder, so if possible, do not pass urine in the hour prior to your appointment. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and does not require any dieting or fasting. No anesthetic is required. On the day of the test, wear separates (i.e. a skirt or trousers and shirt), as you will need to remove your lower clothing and change into a gown.
No matter how carefully the test is performed, urine infections can sometimes occur after it. You should drink more water than usual for a day or two in order to flush out any bacteria. You may be advised to take tablets of antibiotics for a short period of time after the test to prevent infection.
There are several slightly different ways that urodynamics can be performed, but the principles are the same for all.
- You may first be asked to do a series of exercises with a full bladder to see how bad your leakage is. This is called a pad test. Don’t worry – you will not be expected to do anything which you are not normally able to do easily. Pad test is usually not the part of UDS but can be done in clinic any time.
- You will then be asked to pass urine into a special toilet to measure how quickly your bladder is able to empty. You may have a bladder scan immediately after you have passed urine to assess how well your bladder has emptied.
- Special soft fine catheter with sensors is inserted in bladder to measure the pressure in bladder to fill the bladder with liquid. Fine soft catheter with sensor will also be inserted in to the vagina or rectum. These sensors will record pressures measured in your bladder and abdomen.
- During the procedure you will be asked questions about the sensations in your bladder. You will also be asked to do some of the things which might trigger the problem you have (e.g. cough, strain, jog, stand up, or listen to the sound of running water). Let the person doing the test know when your bladder feels full.
- Finally, you will be asked to empty your bladder again, with the two fine sensors still in place. The sensors are then removed and the procedure is complete, and you can get dressed. It is not a painful test, may cause slight discomfort. You can drive after the test.
Passing urine may sting a little for a day after the test, but if you think that you have developed a urinary tract infection please let your doctor know. The results of the test are usually available immediately and will be discussed with you so that your treatment can be planned.