Urodynamics are continuous sets of diagnostic procedures that test how well the bladder, sphincters, and urethra hold and release urine (lower urinary tract function). These tests are especially recommended for patients who have symptoms related to the lower urinary tract including urine leaking and/or blockages.
Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms
Some of the lower urinary tract symptoms that may lead to the recommendation of urodynamics testing include:
- Urinary incontinence (leakage)
- Painful urination
- Overactive bladder (sudden urge to urinate)
- Frequent urinating
- Weak urine flow
- Frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections)
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
- Difficulty starting a urination stream
Types of Urodynamics Testing
Since there are many types of urodynamic tests, the doctor may recommend several, which is based on the patient’s diagnosis and symptoms. However, these tests are typically performed together as one test, and are done on a continuous basis.
- Cytometry or cystometrogram: This is a test that measures the quantity of urine that the bladder can hold as well as the amount of pressure in the bladder. The test is done using a special catheter that is placed in the bladder after the bladder is completely emptied and filled with warm water. This catheter comes with a manometer to measure the said pressure. When the urge to urinate arises, the flow rate pressure and the amount of the water passed are measured.
- Urethral pressure profile: This is a urodynamics testing procedure that uses a manometer to measure the pressure of the bladder and the flow rate of the urine at a given pressure. The procedure helps in diagnosing a blockage in a bladder outlet, which is mostly common in men with an enlarged prostate, or women who’ve have undergone a certain surgical procedure for treating urinary incontinence.
- Uroflowmetry: This urodynamics testing is used to measure how much urine the bladder can hold. It also measures the pressure inside the bladder and how full it is when an individual has the urge to urinate. For this test, the patient is requested to urinate in a special toilet that has a funnel and container with a scale. The urine is collected in the container and is measured every second to show any changes to the rate of flow of the urine, as well as the highest and lowest flow rate, which would indicate the presence of any blockage or weakness of the bladder muscles.
- Electromyography: This is a urodynamics testing procedure that checks the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves of the pelvic floor, especially in the bladder and sphincter.
- Voiding Pressure Study: This test is used to measure the pressure in an individual’s bladder as he/she urinates, as well as the urine flow rate. The study can be used to easily find a block in the bladder from prostate enlargement in men, or women who have undergone urinary incontinence treatment through surgery.
Preparation for Urodynamics Testing
Most of the urodynamics tests do not require any particular or special planning. However, for some, an individual might be asked to drink fluids before the test so that the bladder is full.
Urodynamics Testing Procedure
X-rays link or ultrasound are used by video dynamic tests to take pictures and record footage of the patient’s bladder while it fills and empties. A well-trained technician may use a catheter to fill the patient’s bladder with contrast or dye for a better picture, especially in Cytometry testing.
Post-procedure: What Happens?
After the urodynamic tests, an individual might have mild discomfort when he/she urinates. A small amount of blood might be seen due to the catheter used in any of the tests. To ease these symptoms, the patient is recommended to drink 8-16 ounces of water every hour for two hours.
Taking a warm bath or holding a warm, damp washcloth over the urethral opening is also recommended to ease the symptoms. Prescriptions for an antibiotic might be given to prevent infection. However, this is not always necessary.
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