Text size:

Testing Procedures Used to Diagnose Bladder and Pelvic Conditions

Abdominal CT scan is an imaging method which uses X-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly and pelvic areas. CT stands for computed tomography. The procedure can be used to diagnose kidney and ureter disorders, hernias and chronic urinary tract infections.

Abdominal ultrasound is an imaging procedure using high-frequency sound waves to examine the internal organs of the abdomen, including the bladder and kidneys. An ultrasound scan of the pelvis and bladder can reveal stones, cancerous growths, benign tumors, dilation or blockage of the urinary tract, and other dangerous dysfunctions.

Bladder biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a small piece of tissue from the bladder for examination in the laboratory. It is usually performed as part of a cytoscopy to diagnose bladder dysfunctions and rule out cancer.

Bladder distention (hydrodistention) is a diagnostic procedure and treatment performed under general anesthesia that stretches the bladder capacity. In many cases, the procedure is used as both a diagnostic test and initial therapy. Researchers are not sure why distention helps, but some believe it may increase capacity and interfere with pain signals transmitted by nerves in the bladder. Many people with interstitial cystitis have noted an improvement in symptoms after a bladder distention has been done to diagnose the condition.

Bladder stress test is an exam in which the bladder is filled with liquid through a catheter. Then the doctor removes the catheter and examines the patient coughing, laughing, lifting objects and simulating other stress situations that might induce urinary incontinence.

Cystography, also known as a retrograde cystography or a cystogram is a detailed study of the bladder, which uses a dye and X-rays. A catheter is inserted into the bladder in which the dye flows. When the bladder is full, the catheter is removed and the X-rays are taken. X-rays are also taken when the bladder is empty. The test is performed to determine the cause of urinary tract infections and check for tumors or stones.

Cystometrogram (CMG) or Cystometry is a form of urodynamic testing that uses two catheters with electronic sensors to measures how much fluid your bladder can hold, how much pressure builds up inside your bladder as the fluid is being infused and the flow in which it is released.

Cystoscopy (endoscopy of the bladder) involves a cystoscope – a small lighted tube with a telescopic camera – that is inserted through the urethra into your bladder under local or full anesthesia, allowing a physician to visually inspect the inside of your bladder and urethra for abnormalities. A cystoscope may provide a better view of a tumor, bladder wall lining or bladder stone than can be seen in an intravenous pyelogram.

Cytology exam of urine from a specimen in a medical lab is used to detect cancer and inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract.

Defecography (dynamic cystoproctography) is an X-ray imaging examination of how the anal canal and rectum operate during a bowel movement. The procedure, in which the patient drinks and voids a barium solution, is used to diagnose pelvic floor disorders, including rectocele, the prolapse of the rectum.

Double dye (tampon) test is useful for diagnosing vesicovaginal or ureterovaginal fistula. For this test, chemical dyes are ingested and inserted into the empty bladder via a urethral catheter. Pyridium turns urine orange in the kidneys, and methylene blue turns urine blue in the bladder. If the tampon turns blue, vesicovaginal fistula is suspected. If the tampon turns orange, ureterovaginal fistula is suspected. If the tampon turns blue and orange, suspect a combination of vesicovaginal and ureterovaginal fistulae.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is an x-ray examination of the kidneys, bladder and ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). The procedure monitors the kidneys as they remove an intravenously injected iodine-based contrast dye from the blood stream into urine. IVP is used to diagnose bladder and kidney dysfunctions, such as blood in the urine, urinary tract infections and stones.

Kidney imaging studies include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or intravenous pyelogram (IVP). Imaging studies may reveal a tumor, a kidney or bladder stone, an enlarged prostate or other blockage to the normal flow of urine.

Pelvic examination performed by a health professional is often the first step to diagnose a woman experiencing symptoms of pelvic prolapse disorder and urinary incontinence.

Pelvic PUF questionnaire, measuring pelvic pain, urgency and frequency, is a simple patient assessment tool which helps the doctor diagnose and determine the severity of bladder and urinary tract dysfunctions.

Radionuclide cystogram (bladder scan, nuclear scan) is an imaging test that uses a catheter to fill the bladder with a solution containing radioisotopes. As the patient voids the solution, radiological scans are recorded to examine bladder and urinary tract functions.

Urinalysis is the physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine. It involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds that pass through the urine.

Urine culture is the method of collecting a urine sample through the use of a catheter or clean-catch in a sterile container. Commonly known as a urine specimen collection, a culture is used to determine whether there is bacterial growth in the urine.

Urodynamic testing assesses how the bladder and urethra are performing their job of storing and releasing urine. Urodynamic tests can range from simple observation to precise measurement using sophisticated instruments. Urodynamic tests help your physician see how well your bladder and urinary sphincter muscles work and can help explain symptoms such as incontinence, painful urination and chronic urinary tract infections. The tests help determine if the source of bladder problems is physical or neuro-urological. Urodynamic tests can range from simple observation (bladder stress tests) to precise measurements using X-rays, electronic sensors or other sophisticated instruments.

Uroflowmetry is a common urodynamic test that automatically measures the amount of urine and the flow rate – how fast the urine is voided. The patient urinates into a special urinal connected to an electronic measuring device. The test is used to diagnose kidney or bladder dysfunctions, including incontinence and bladder outlet obstruction.

Video urodynamic testing may be performed with imaging equipment to take X-rays of the bladder during filling and emptying of a contact dye. The entire process is examined on a video monitor to see if the muscles are functioning properly and to watch for abnormalities in the bladder or urinary tract.

Voiding cystourethrogram is an X-ray examination of the bladder and urethra that is performed while the bladder is emptying a contrast dye through a catheter. It is used to diagnose bladder and urinary tract disorders.

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided in the Bladder Health Program of South Florida website should be used solely for educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the independent judgment of a healthcare provider. The appropriateness of a course of treatment for a patient may vary from the medical information provided herein due to individual conditions and/or complications. Always ask your physician about all treatment options, as well as the risks and benefits.

back to top