What is Urodynamic Testing?

Urodynamic testing is a group of tests that help to evaluate the way your bladder works. These tests are a standard part of evaluating urinary incontinence (urine leakage) and are also standard prior to surgery for pelvic organ prolapse.

The testing will help the physician diagnose the type of urinary incontinence and evaluate the functioning of your lower urinary tract. If you have a vaginal prolapse or a bulge it will also help evaluate what will happen when your prolapse is repaired during surgery. In some women, the prolapse acts like a “plug”, preventing urine leakage. After the prolapse is repaired, they may experience uncontrolled urine leakage.

If your physician can identify this possibility before surgery with urodynamic testing, he/she may be able to prevent urine leakage with an added procedure at the time of surgery.

  • You will be asked to come to the test with a comfortably “full bladder”. Plain water is best for filling your bladder.
  • Avoid caffeine and citrus 2 hours prior to your test.
  • You should stop drinking all fluids 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • If you are taking medications for your bladder symptoms, do not take this medication the day of your testing

During the testing, a catheter (small tube) will be placed into your urethra (passage from your bladder where urine comes out). This will test how much urine is left in the bladder after you have urinated (post void residual). Then sterile water will be placed in your bladder through the catheter. A second catheter will be placed in either the vagina or rectum.

Measurements will be made of how much fluid your bladder can hold (capacity) and how your bladder behaves at different levels of “fullness”. You will be asked to tell the staff when you have the first desire to urinate (pass water), when you have a strong desire to urinate, and when your bladder feels really full and you would stop whatever you were doing to rush to the bathroom.

Measurements will be taken at all of these points. You will also be asked to cough or bear down to see how your bladder functions and if this activity causes you to leak urine. We may also test how well the urethral sphincter muscle works. We will also evaluate how well your bladder empties as a bladder that empties poorly may cause incontinence symptoms or impact how a surgery is done.

Do not be embarrassed if you leak urine, pass gas or even stool, during this procedure. You might compare it to taking your car in for repairs and having the mechanic see the problem so he or she knows what to fix. If you are leaking urine at home, we want you to leak during the testing so we can document the conditions under which your bladder leaks.

Urodynamic testing involves filling and emptying your bladder to accomplish 5-6 different tests. The testing takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You will be sitting in a reclined chair with the catheter in your bladder most of the time.

Our experienced, highly trained staff will explain the procedures. Please feel free to ask questions if you do not understand what is happening. Most women find the testing a little embarrassing or mildly uncomfortable, but not painful. Some women experience a little burning or urinary frequency (having to urinate more often) for the rest of that day from having a catheter in the urethra, but this usually resolves by itself. If the symptoms persist, just give us a call and we will advise you what to do next.

If you have private health insurance (not Medicare or Medicaid), you should check with your insurance provider to find out what they will pay for urodynamic testing, and the amount of your co-payment.

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