Urodynamic Tests for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a cause of embarrassment for both men and women and present serious social and psychological problems. Incontinence caused by stress and an overactive bladder are the primary causes of this type of problem. Stress incontinence, which is more common in women, causes urine to leak during laughing or coughing. Overactive bladder, also called urge incontinence, is caused by muscle spasms leading to urgent feeling to urinate. The condition can also be caused by a myriad of other reasons such as multiple pregnancies, an overweight condition, and genetic predisposition.

The first thing a urologist will do before suggesting a course of treatment is commence upon a fact finding mission through medical diagnostics. One of these tests is known as an Urodynamic Test. These types of tests are designed to measure the bladder’s function. Urodynamic diagnostics are relatively straightforward and are usually performed in a doctor’s office. Some other incontinence testing requires sophisticated instruments to measure the amount of pressure on the bladder and urethra.
For basic urodynamic testing, the following steps will be accomplished:
  • Patients will be instructed to arrive for the test with a full bladder.
  • Urine volume and velocity will be measured while the bladder is emptied.
  • A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into the urethra that leads into the bladder and the volume of any remaining urine is measured.
  • The bladder will be flushed with water until a persistent urge to urinate occurs, at which point the volume of water is evaluated.
The benefits of urodynamic testing are highest when patients have moderate to severe involuntary release of urine; other types of evaluations have not uncovered the cause of incontinence; there may be more than one cause for the incontinence.
Once the urodynamic test has been completed the results are analyzed at reported. The results are considered normal if the amount of fluid left in the bladder; and when the timing of the urge to urinate is well within normal acceptable medical limits.
Results from the urodynamic evaluations are considered abnormal if one or more of the following conditions present:

  • A high volume of fluid remains in the bladder after urinating suggesting that the flow of urine out of the bladder is blocked or that the bladder is not contracting enough to force out all the urine out. This condition is known as overflow incontinence.
  • The bladder contains fluid volume that is lower or higher than medical norms.
  • The patient presents with an inability to retain urine when the bladder contains less than a medically accepted volume.
It is important to note that additional tests may be required if other treatment evaluations for incontinence have previously failed. Alternative testing may be needed if patients have had prostate surgery, radiation therapy, or frequent urinary tract infections. Other forms of testing will also be required if a catheter cannot be easily placed into the bladder due to physical maladies, deformations, or obstructions.
The renal system plays an important role in the body’s overall health and the urodynamic test is a medical necessity to aid in the diagnosis of incontinence.