Evaluation of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence simply means uncontrollable loss of urine that may result in social embarrassment and isolation. It is a very common problem in women and the incidence increases with increasing age. Although many patients with this problem are hesitant to discuss it, we want them to know that most patients with incontinence can be helped. It is important to let the doctor know about the symptoms so a thorough evaluation can be initiated. Not all urinary incontinence problems are caused by the same reason, and treatment options will vary greatly, depending on each patients clinical presentation and needs. The evaluation will often require a comprehensive history, keeping tract of urinary habits with a voiding diary, laboratory testing, and diagnostic evaluations. One procedure done in the office is called urodynamic testing. This is performed to evaluate functional (voiding) disorders of the bladder and urethra. In some cases an additional procedure called cystoscopy will be performed. This involves insertion of a small telescope through the urethra into the bladder to visualize its internal lining. Frequently conditions which lead to bladder symptoms such as frequency, urgency, pain, and incontinence can be diagnosed this way. The results of these tests will help the physician determine what may be causing a patients incontinence and decide what treatment options would be reasonable, whether they be surgical, medical, or a combination of both. Following interpretation of the bladder tests, the physician will review the results in detail with the patient.