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Interstitial Cystitis / Painful Bladder Syndrome


What causes IC? continued...

In recent years, researchers have isolated a substance found almost exclusively in the urine of people with interstitial cystitis. They have named the substance antiproliferative factor, or APF, because it appears to block the normal growth of the cells that line the inside wall of the bladder. Researchers anticipate that learning more about APF will lead to a greater understanding of the causes of IC and to possible treatments.

Researchers are beginning to explore the possibility that heredity may play a part in some forms of IC. In a few cases, IC has affected a mother and a daughter or two sisters, but it does not commonly run in families.

How is IC / PBS diagnosed?

Because symptoms are similar to those of other disorders of the urinary bladder and because there is no definitive test to identify IC / PBS, doctors must rule out other treatable conditions before considering a diagnosis of IC / PBS. The most common of these diseases in both genders are urinary tract infections and bladder cancer. IC / PBS is not associated with any increased risk in developing cancer. In men, common diseases include chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

The diagnosis of IC / PBS in the general population is based on

  • presence of pain related to the bladder, usually accompanied by frequency and urgency
  • absence of other diseases that could cause the symptoms

Diagnostic tests that help in ruling out other diseases include urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall, distention of the bladder under anesthesia, urine cytology, and laboratory examination of prostate secretions.

Urinalysis and Urine Culture

Examining urine under a microscope and culturing the urine can detect and identify the primary organisms that are known to infect the urinary tract and that may cause symptoms similar to IC / PBS. A urine sample is obtained either by catheterization or by the "clean catch" method. For a clean catch, the patient washes the genital area before collecting urine "midstream" in a sterile container. White and red blood cells and bacteria in the urine may indicate an infection of the urinary tract, which can be treated with an antibiotic. If urine is sterile for weeks or months while symptoms persist, the doctor may consider a diagnosis of IC / PBS.

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