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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Exams and Tests

To learn the cause of your urinary incontinence, your doctor will first review your medical history and give you a physical exam. Along with routine testing, such as a urinalysis, this may be all your doctor needs to diagnose the cause and start treatment.

Your doctor may ask you to keep a voiding log. This is a record of the amount of liquids you drink and how much and how often you urinate.

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Incontinence testing

Tests that may be done to find the type and cause of your urinary incontinence include:

  • Urinalysis and urine culture. These tests show whether you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or prostatitis, or blood or sugar in your urine.
  • Cough test. It checks for urine leakage while you cough.
  • Urodynamic tests, which may include:
    • Uroflowmetry. This test measures your rate of urine flow. A low peak flow rate can be a sign of a blockage or a weak bladder.
    • Pressure flow studies. This testing measures pressure changes in the bladder as the flow changes. It is often used when the cause of a man's symptoms is uncertain. It can help show if the cause may be a blockage or a problem with the bladder muscles or nerves.
    • Post-void residual volume. This test measures the amount of urine left after you empty your bladder.
  • Cystometrogram (CMG). This test measures how well your bladder can store and release urine.
  • Electromyogram (EMG). This test records the electrical activity of muscles.

Your doctor may do a cystoscopic exam. This is a test that allows your doctor to see inside the urinary tract.

Other tests

You may need more tests if:

  • The first treatment for incontinence has failed.
  • You have had previous prostate surgery, radiation therapy, or frequent urinary tract infections.
  • A catheter cannot be easily placed into your bladder.

Some tests aren't often used for incontinence, but they may be helpful. One example is cystourethrogram. It's an X-ray of your bladder and urethra while you are urinating.

If your doctor wants to do more tests, ask how the test can help your doctor treat your incontinence.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 06, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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