Urodynamic testing is used to find out how a woman’s bladder behaves, by measuring the pressures within the bladder and the urethra.
The results will help the consultant to decide on the best method of treatment for her. This may not mean surgery; many problems can be treated with tablets or special exercises.
The patient will be asked to keep a diary recording how much she drinks, and how much urine she passes, and when, before her appointment. This diary will help the doctor or nurse to understand her bladder problem.
Urodynamic testing is done as an outpatient procedure. This means the woman can have the test and go home the same day. She can eat and drink as usual before having a urodynamic test. She will be asked to come to her appointment with a full bladder.
The specialist nurse carrying out the test will meet the patient and discuss with her what will happen before, during and after the procedure.
Urodynamic testing usually takes about 30 minutes. The patient will need to take off her clothes from the waist down and put on a hospital gown. She will be asked to lie down on a couch. The nurse will pass one or two fine tubes called catheters into her bladder through the urethra. A catheter will also be put into her rectum (back passage).
The nurse will put a local anaesthetic gel onto the skin around the entrance of her urethra before the catheter is put in. This will help to make the procedure more comfortable. There may be some sensation like wanting to pass urine, as the catheter is put in. Fluid will be put into her bladder through the catheter. A sensor on the end of the catheter measures the pressure inside the bladder as it fills. The catheter inside the rectum measures the pressure in the abdomen.
When her bladder is full, the patient will be asked to stand up and cough. Then she will be asked to use a commode and empty her bladder. The commode has a flow meter in it which measures the flow of urine as she empties her bladder. When the test is over, the nurse will take the catheters out.
The woman will be able to go home when she feels ready. She can drive if she wants to. The results of this test may be discussed with the patient immediately afterwards or at a later appointment. A report will be sent to her and her GP.
Urodynamic test is commonly performed and is generally safe. The side-effects of urodynamic testing can include some discomfort in the area where the catheter was inserted and some mild stinging when passing urine. These should get better within a few hours. One in 100 women develops urinary tract infection after a urodynamic test. To help prevent this, the patient should drink plenty of fluid after the test.