Urodynamics: What it is and Why It’s Used

Posted by Howard Tay, MD, FACS on Jun 25, 2021 9:52:20 AM

If you think you have been dealing with urinary incontinence, otherwise known as the involuntary loss of urine, you may be looking for a way to get tested. Testing for incontinence not only can confirm that you should be diagnosed, but it can also find the underlying causes and can lead you to treatment options. Today, we’re going to talk about urodynamics which is the main testing option for urinary incontinence.


What do urodynamic tests look for?

Urodynamic tests are used to diagnose those who have urinary incontinence or are experiencing lower urinary tract symptoms. These tests can be given to both men and women who are dealing with urinary issues. Urodynamic tests measure:


  • Muscle and nerve function
  • Flow rates and other similar factors
  • Pressure surrounding and in the bladder


The test takes a look at how the bladder, urethra, and sphincters are releasing and storing the urine.


What symptoms usually lead to urodynamic testing?

Most urodynamic tests are to see how well the bladder is releasing and storing urine, so these tests are often done if you are having issues with this. Here are some symptoms you may be having that will lead your doctor to urodynamic testing:


  • Urine leakage, or incontinence of any type
  • Overwhelming and sudden urges to use the restroom frequently
  • Issues when starting urination or fully emptying your bladder
  • Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) or pain while urinating


If you are having any symptoms like these, your doctor may want to test your bladder to figure out what can be done.


What are the different urodynamic tests?

There are many different urodynamic tests that you may need to have done based on your unique circumstances. These are the main urodynamic tests:


  • Postvoid residual measurement
  • Pressure flow study
  • Cystometry (otherwise known as leak point pressure measurement and pressure-flow study)
  • Video urodynamic tests
  • Electromyography


How do urodynamic tests work?

Depending on the type of test, each urodynamic procedure is different.

  • Cystometric tests, or cystometrograms, is a test that uses catheters to measure your bladders pressure.
  • Electromyography tests use sensors to measure the electrical activity of the nerves and muscles around and inside the sphincters and the bladder.
  • Uroflometry tests are done by having the patient urinate into a machine that measures your flow rate and makes a chart out of the pressure in order to find issues and blockage.
  • Postvoid residual measurement is a test that finds the amount of urine still left in your bladder after you have emptied it. This is done with ultrasound equipment.
  • Video urodynamic tests combine cystometry, uroflowmetry, and X-ray cystography into one single test to measure urine flow and bladder pressure.


Are there side effects to a urodynamic test?

For a few hours after your test, you may have slight pain while urinating. Due to the catheter, there may even be a slight amount of blood in your urine. These side effects can be eased by staying hydrated and drinking up to eight to 16 ounces every one to two hours. Many doctors will recommend over-the-counter pain medicine and a warm bath, or that you hold a warm washcloth to your urethral opening. Occasionally, a doctor may provide an antibiotic prescription if they suspect an upcoming infection that can be avoided. If you are experiencing a fever, chills, or major pain, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.


About Dr. Howard Tay, MD, Board Certified Urologist

Dr. Howard Tay is a board-certified urologist in Arizona certified by the American Board of Urology. He is an active member in the American Urological Association. He has practiced urology in Arizona since 1996.

Dr. Tay is recognized as a leading Arizona urologists, including several Phoenix Magazine “Top Doc” awards for urology.

He is an active member in advancing urology in the state of Arizona and serves on several hospital committees as is past Department Chair of Surgery at Banner Thunderbird Hospital.

In addition to his practice, he is an educator training medical student and physician assistants in urology at Midwestern University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona Medical School-Phoenix Campus.

Dr. Tay and his wife Christina met while still in college at UC Berkeley and have been together through Dr. Tay’s medical school and residency. They have two children, Kimberly and Kevin. Kimberly is currently a urology resident while Kevin is attending medical school.

In his spare time, Dr. Tay enjoys tennis, racquet ball and gold as well as target shooting, restoring classic cars and home improvement projects. He and Christina love to travel now that they are “empty nesters.”


Topics: Urodynamics Testing, urodynamics, urinariy incontinence

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