Prior to the cystometric study, you may be asked to urinate (void) into a special container that is interfaced with a computer. This type of study is called a uroflow, during which the following will be recorded by the computer:
- The time it takes you to begin urinating
- The size, force, and continuity of your urinary stream
- The amount of urine
- How long it took you to empty your bladder
You will then lie down, and a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is gently placed in your bladder. The catheter measures any urine left in the bladder. A smaller catheter is sometimes placed in your rectum in order to measure abdominal pressure. Measuring electrodes, similar to the sticky pads used for an EKG, are placed near the rectum.
A tube used to monitor bladder pressure (cystometer) is attached to the catheter. Water flows into the bladder at a controlled rate. You will be asked to tell the health care provider when you first feel the need to urinate and when your bladder is completely full.
Often, your doctor may need more information and will order tests to evaluate of your bladder function. This set of tests is often referred to as urodynamics or complete urodynamics. The combination includes three tests:
- Measured voiding without a catheter (uroflow)
- Cystometry (filling phase)
- Voiding or emptying phase test
For complete urodynamic testing, a much smaller catheter is placed in the bladder. You will be able to urinate around it. Because this special catheter has a sensor on the tip, the computer can measure the pressure and volumes as your bladder fills and as you empty it. You may be asked to cough or push so that the health care provider can check for urine leakage. This type of complete testing can reveal a lot of information about your bladder functions.
For even more information, x-rays can be taken during the test. In this case, instead of water, a special fluid that shows up on x-ray is used to fill your bladder. This type of urodynamics is called videourodynamics.