What is Urodynamic Testing?

Urodynamic tests for urinary incontinence are measurements taken to evaluate your bladder's function and efficiency. 

After your health care provider has gone over your symptoms and complaints, and possibly performed some simple tests, he or she may feel the puzzle isn't complete and may order urodynamic testing. Urodynamic testing helps identify specific problems related to:

  • Controlling urine
  • Not emptying the bladder completely
  • Feelings of urinary urgency and/or frequency
  • Weak or intermittent urine flow
  • Frequent urinary tract infections

There are several pieces that make up urodynamics. Patients should come for the test with a full bladder (if possible). You will be asked to urinate into a special chair or funnel; this will measure how much and how fast urine comes out. The test is called a uroflow.

Small sticky patches are often placed on either side of the buttocks to measure the electrical activity of certain muscles. This is called an Electromyogram (EMG).

Next, a catheter (a small, soft tube) will be placed into your bladder to drain out all the leftover urine. This will show how well your bladder emptied on its own. Through a catheter, your bladder will be filled and the pressure of your bladder muscle and its response to being filled will be measured. At the same time, an estimate of the pressures outside the bladder will be measured by inserting another small soft tube, or catheter, into the rectum or the vagina. This tube is about the size of a spaghetti noodle and doesn't do anything except measure pressure. The measurement of these pressures during filling is called a Cystometrogram (CMG).

As the bladder fills, the different pressure measurements will be recorded and you will be asked questions about the way your bladder feels as it is filling, but your bladder should not hurt. You may also be asked to cough, push, or bear down to check for any leakage.

When you feel your bladder is full, you will be asked to empty your bladder into the special commode again. This time you will urinate with the tubes in place. The tubes are specially designed to let the fluid come out around them. This lets us look at the function of your bladder as it empties. This is called a Voiding Pressure Study or a Pressure Flow Study.