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Diagnosing Overactive Bladder

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

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 an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to look at how much urine is left in your bladder after you go.

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. In this test, a catheter fills the bladder with warm water or air. This test evaluates bladder function by measuring the pressure in the bladder as it fills. It also assesses urge sensation and bladder filling capacity.

Voiding cystourethrogram. This overactive bladder test looks for structural problems in the bladder and urethra. A liquid contrast dye is injected into your bladder with a catheter and then X-rays are taken while you urinate.

These OAB tests can help diagnose whether your condition has something to do with an infection or other illness, a blockage, or poorly functioning bladder muscles. Knowing the cause of your overactive bladder can help your doctor find the right treatment for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on April 11, 2014
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