Incontinence Diagnosis

If you have incontinence, whether that is urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence or both, you need the care and expertise of a specialized group of physicians and staff who work together as a team to provide advanced care. 

Incontinence Diagnosis

After a precise diagnosis is established, we can tailor therapy to a patient’s individual needs, arriving at an improvement or cure in the shortest possible period of time.

Urinary Incontinence Tests

Common and specialized tests include:

  • Bladder diary - track your daily drinks, when you urinate, how much urine you produce, whether you had the urge to urinate and the number of times you experience incontinence
  • Urinalysis - your urine sample is examined for signs of infection, traces of blood or other problems
  • Blood test - your blood sample is analyzed for various chemicals and substances that may be contributing to your incontinence
  • Postvoid residual (PVR) measurement you're asked to urinate (also called void) into a container that measures the amount of urine. Then a catheter or ultrasound test measures the leftover (also called residual) urine in your bladder
  • Pelvic ultrasound - your urinary tract or genitals are examined for abnormalities
  • Bladder stress test - your doctor will examine you and watch for loss of urine when you either cough or bear down
  • Urodynamic testing - the pressure in your bladder when it's at rest and when it's filling are measured
  • Cystourethrogram - your urinary tract is examined by injecting a fluid with a special dye that shows up on a series of X-rays of your bladder as you urinate
  • Cystoscopy - abnormalities in your urinary tract are examined using a thin tube with a tiny lens (cystoscope)

Fecal Incontinence Tests

Common and specialized tests include:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) - the strength of your sphincter muscles and any abnormalities in the rectal area are examined by inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum
  • Balloon expulsion test - a small balloon filled with water is inserted into the rectum and you’re asked to go to the toilet to push it out (also called expel).  How long the process takes is tracked.  Typically any time over one minute is a sign of a problem
  • Anal manometry - the tightness of your anal sphincter and the sensitivity and functioning of your rectum are measured by inserting a narrow, flexible tube with an expandable balloon at the tip into the anus and rectum
  • Anorectal ultrasonography - the structure of your sphincter is examined by inserting a narrow, wand-like instrument into the anus and rectum that makes video images
  • Proctography - this test measures how much stool your rectum can hold and how well your body expels stool by making X-ray video images while you have a bowel movement on a specially designed toilet
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy - the last two feet of the colon (called the sigmoid) are examined for signs of inflammation, tumors or scar tissue by inserting a flexible tube into your rectum
  • Endorectal ultrasound (ERUS) - the anal sphincters are inspected by inserting a special endoscope to look at the lower colon and using sound waves to make images
  • Colonoscopy - your large intestine (also called the colon) is inspected by using a flexible scope called a colonoscope
  • Anal electromyography - Nerve damage is measured by inserting tiny electrodes into muscles around the anus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - makes pictures of the sphincter during defecation to determine if the muscles are intact

Learn more about Incontinence treatments.

Find a Fletcher Allen physician or call 802-847-5800.