How Incontinence is Diagnosed and Tested

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Urinary incontinence is a condition that effects millions of men and women in the U.S. every year. The condition can often come on unexpectedly and quickly interrupt your daily routine. But you do not have to live this way. Speaking with a Blue Ridge Urological doctor about your incontinence is the first step in diagnosis and the road to treatment.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

People suffering from urinary incontinence all have one thing in common; their bladders unexpectedly leak urine. That said, according to Dr. Gillock, “not all incontinence is created equally.” Your urologist will evaluate you and determine what type of incontinence you are suffering from. Some simple physical activities in our office can help provoke an incontinent event, which will help your doctor narrow down the possible causes. In addition to a physical exam, a few simple tests can help your urologist learn a lot about your incontinence.


A urinalysis is a basic test that requires a urine sample. This sample gives our lab the ability to determine if your urine is healthy by looking for sugar and protein in your urine, as well as determining acidity. A culture and sensitivity test may also be performed if there is a concern for bacteria which could indicate a urinary tract infection.

A bladder scan can also be helpful when determining the cause of your incontinence. This is essentially a noninvasive ultrasound. Your urologist will have you go to the bathroom and empty your bladder into a measuring basin, also called a urine hat. The amount of urine in the hat is recorded. Once this is complete, your urologist will roll the ultrasound wand over your bladder. The scanner has the ability to measure the amount of urine that is still residing in your bladder. This number will also be recorded and compared to the hat sample.

Depending on the nature of your symptoms, your doctor may perform a pelvic ultrasound. Dr. Gillock explains, “this will allow your doctor to visualize your pelvic region as a whole and look for any underlying abnormalities that could be contributing to your incontinence.”

More invasive testing may be necessary to visualize the inside of the bladder. This may require a cystoscopy (inserting avery small scope into the bladder) to look for blockages. A cystogram, the injection of dye into the bladder, may also be helpful to visualize the pathway the urine is following. This is also very effective at showing any interruptions in the urine expulsion process. Urodynamics can also be used to make precise measurements of bladder pressures to determine that cause and possible solutions for your incontinence.

Taking the Step

Taking the step to seek treatment for your incontinence can be scary. Patients in the Staunton area are often embarrassed to tell their doctors their symptoms and feel anxious when filling out questionnaires. Blue Ridge Urological Associates wants you to know that you are not alone in this process. Our team of professionals are here to address all of your needs. An open dialogue with your urologist about your feelings, concerns for your lifestyle, and interruptions in your regular activities, can help your physician establish a treatment plan that will fit your needs and get you back to doing what you love.

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