Diagnosing a Pelvic Floor Disorder
During a patient’s initial visit, we do a complete work-up to identify the underlying
causes of each patient’s symptoms. Patients will receive a thorough and sensitive
evaluation by members of our team. Most of the time, one or more of the following
tests is needed (depending on the kinds of symptoms you have). These procedures help
determine the best treatment option:
Pelvic Exam (Printer-Friendly guide on our resources page)
- Purpose: This exam is used to determine the severity of the pelvic organ prolapse.
- Preparing for the exam: You do not have to do anything to prepare for this exam, however, you may want to empty your bladder prior to the exam to make it a little more comfortable.
- During the exam: This exam takes only a few minutes. Your doctor or nurse will ask you to take off
your clothes in private (you will be given a gown or other covering.) He or she may
press down on areas of your lower stomach to feel the organs from the outside. He
or she will also perform a vaginal exam. During the exam, a device called a speculum
will be inserted into the vagina. The speculum is opened to widen the vagina so that
the vagina and cervix can be seen. Your doctor will also place two fingers inside
the vagina and use the other hand to gently press down on the area he or she is feeling
to note the size and shape of the organs. You may be asked to bear down (as when having
a bowel movement) or to cough. You may also be examined while standing. The resulting
pressure in the pelvis from coughing, standing or both may make a pelvic floor disorder
more obvious. A rectal exam may also be performed.
Purpose: This test is used to examine the inside of the bladder using a small camera.
Preparing for the test: You do not need to change your diet or daily routine
Urodynamics (Printer-Friendly guide on our resources page)
Purpose: This is a study that assesses how the bladder and urethra are performing their job of storing and releasing urine. Urodynamics testing gives your doctor information that can explain symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination
- Sudden strong urges to urinate
- Painful urination
- Problems starting a urine stream
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Preparing for the test: You do not need to change your diet or daily routine. You should drink fluids prior to coming so that your bladder is full for the test.
During and after the test:
Uroflow: For the first part of the test you will be asked to empty your bladder into a special
commode. This measures the amount of urine and the flow rate.
Cystometrogram: After the bladder is emptied for the uroflow, small catheters are placed into the bladder and rectum to measure pressures. Also, several sticky patches are placed on the backside to measure muscle activity. Your nurse will drain the bladder through the catheter and measure the amount. This will tell your doctor how well your bladder empties. Next, the bladder will be filled with water through a catheter that is connected to a computer. The nurse will monitor bladder pressures and may ask you to cough to check for leaks.
Pressure flow study: Once the bladder feels full, you will be asked to urinate into the special commode. Pressure and flow rate will be recorded as well as the amount of urine that is left in the bladder. The test is then complete.
After the test: You may feel some burning or irritation from the catheter. It is helpful to drink plenty of water the remainder of the day. The results will be sent to your doctor and you should make a follow-up appointment.
Purpose: This test is used to examine and visualize the anal canal.
Preparing for the test: You do not need to change your diet or daily routine.
Help is available
Are you living with a pelvic floor disorder? Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, or call us at 423-439-7246 to speak to a specialist.