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Urodynamics

Urodynamic studies (UDS) test how well the bladder, sphincters and urethra hold and release urine. These tests can show how well the bladder works and why there could be leaks or blockages. There are many types of urodynamic tests. Your provider may recommend one or more based on your symptoms, but they are typically performed together as one test.

These tests are urodynamic studies:

  • Cystometry, or getting a cystometrogram
  • Electromyography, or getting an electromyogram (EMG)
  • Urethral pressure profile
  • Uroflowmetry
  • Voiding pressure study (pressure flow study)

Why would I need urodynamics?

Urodynamics help find the cause of problems related to:

  • Urine leaks/controlling your urine
  • Bladder not emptying all the way
  • The need to go too often
  • The need to go suddenly
  • Weak urine flow
  • Urine flow stopping and starting (“intermittent”)
  • Getting urinary tract infections often

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about your symptoms. Then the provider should give you a physical exam and start with simple urine tests.

If more information is needed, your provider may suggest UDS and possibly X-rays. Your urologist will create a treatment plan based on what they learn. Additional tests will help to clarify the problem.

To prevent infection, you will often be given an antibiotic before and/or after your test. You will also be asked to arrive with a full bladder.

How does the lower urinary tract work?

Your lower urinary tract includes the bladder and the urethra. The bladder is a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine, which is made in the kidneys. It’s held in place by pelvic muscles in the lower part of your belly.

The bladder is relaxed when it isn’t full. Nerve signals in your brain let you know that your bladder is getting full. When it is full, you feel the need to release urine. The brain then tells the bladder muscles to squeeze (or “contract”). This forces the urine out of your body through your urethra.

Your urethra has muscles called sphincters. They help keep the urethra closed so you don’t leak before its time. These sphincters open up to release urine when the bladder contracts.

After the procedure

These tests may leave you with slight discomfort for a few hours when urinating. It helps to drink several glasses of fresh water after the tests. You may find comfort with a warm, damp washcloth placed over the urethral opening.

Your healthcare provider will discuss test results with you. After you learn more, you and your healthcare provider will decide on the best treatment plan.