Urodynamic testing looks at your bladder, how it stores and expels urine. It can help to find out what is causing any problems you have with your bladder, such as urinary incontinence, frequency or urgency, which can also make you get up at night to urinate. If you have difficulty passing urine, it can also help to find out what may be causing this. It measures how long it takes for your bladder to empty and whether the flow of urine out of your bladder is even, or if it stops and starts. The test will also measure how well your bladder contracts to start the flow of urine and how much pressure there is in your bladder and urethra.
You can eat and drink as usual before having urodynamic testing. You may be asked to come to your appointment with a full bladder. The test usually takes 15 to 30 minutes and it should not be painful, although it may be uncomfortable at times. Urodynamic testing is routinely done as an outpatient procedure. This means you will have the test and go home the same day.
The Urodynamic Test Procedure
At the hospital your urine will be tested for any infection. If you have an infection the test will be postponed and you will need to have it after your infection has gone. It’s important to delay the test as this will help to protect you against possible complications. You may be given antibiotics to clear the infection.
A cystometrogram is a common type of urodynamic test. Catheters are passed into your bladder through your urethra and your rectum. Your doctor may put a local anaesthetic gel onto your skin around the entrance of your urethra before he or she puts the catheter in. This will help to make the procedure more comfortable. You may feel like you want to pass urine as the catheter is placed.
One of the catheters going into your bladder is connected to a sterile water machine and the other is attached to a pressure monitor. Your bladder is slowly filled with fluid through the catheter. A sensor on the end of the catheter will measure the pressure inside your bladder as it fills. The catheter inside your rectum will measure the pressure in your abdomen. The pressure monitor is a special machine which measures how much liquid your bladder can hold and the pressure inside your bladder.
Once you sense your bladder is completely full, the catheter is removed and you will be asked to stand and cough. At this point, you may leak urine, which is quite normal and to be expected. You will still be attached to the monitor at this point and will then be asked to use the flow meter commode and empty your bladder. Once this is complete, the remaining catheters will be removed.
It is possible to develop a urinary tract infection which may need to be treated by antibiotics. If you have other symptoms as well as urinary incontinence, your doctor may suggest other tests. These may include a cystoscopy, where your doctor looks inside your bladder using a thin, flexible camera, or imaging tests.
You will usually be able to go home when you feel ready. You can drive if you want to. You should be able to go back to your usual day-to-day activities straight away. After your appointment, drink plenty of fluids, particularly for the first two days as this will help to reduce any discomfort.
Side effects of urodynamic testing are generally temporary and include: discomfort in the area where a catheter was inserted – this should get better after a few hours, mild stinging when you pass urine for the first couple of times, blood in your urine & increased frequency for the first 24-hours.