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    Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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    Diagnosing Overactive Bladder

    What Are the Tests for Overactive Bladder? continued...

    Tests for overactive bladder include:

    Urinalysis. Taking a urine sample allows your doctor to check for conditions that can cause overactive bladder. A urinalysis looks for the presence of these substances in the urine:

    Postvoid residual volume. This test checks to see whether the bladder empties fully by passing a flexible tube called a catheter through your urethra and into your bladder after you’ve urinated. The catheter drains the urine that remains in your bladder and measures it. Another way to test postvoid residual urine is with a bladder scanner that uses ultrasound, a test that uses sound waves to look at how much urine is left in your bladder after you go.  The bladder scanner is a painless procedure.  Ultrasound gel is placed on your lower abdomen and the machine calculates the volume of urine left in your bladder.  

    Bladder stress test. To see whether you’re leaking urine, your doctor might do a bladder stress test, which consists of filling your bladder with fluid and then asking you to cough.

    Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to visualize the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract.

    Cystoscopy. This test uses a thin, lighted instrument called a cystoscope to visualize the inside of the urethra and bladder.

    Urodynamic testing. This series of OAB tests measures how well your bladder holds and empties urine. Because these tests can be both invasive and expensive, urodynamic testing is usually reserved for people who have unusual symptoms or who haven’t responded to treatment.

    Urodynamic tests include:

    • Uroflowmetry. As you urinate, this test measures the amount and speed of the urine flow to see if there is any obstruction affecting urination.
    • Cystometry or cystometrogram. This test evaluates bladder function by measuring the pressure in the bladder as it fills with sterile warm water. It also assesses urge sensation and bladder filling capacity.
    • EMG or electromyogram. This measures the sphincter muscle contractions before, during, and after voiding.  A condition called detrusor-sphincter dyssingeria can cause incontinence.  this is where the sphincter muscle contracts instead of relaxing during urination.  by contracting the bladder muscle has to generate more pressure which can lead to urinary retention and damage to the bladder.   EMG is done in conjunction with the cystometrogram.

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