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What is a Cystometrogram?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A cystometrogram is a medical testing procedure performed on women and men. It is generally ordered by a physician, typically a urologist, when a patient has a urinary problem. The assessment measures the pressure and capacity of the bladder. It may also reveal other bladder disorders or related illnesses.

The most common problems for which the test is used to diagnose include overactive bladder, difficulty urinating or urinary retention or incontinence. Men who are preparing for prostate surgery are frequently required to undergo this procedure to determine if their prostate enlargement has anything to do with a bladder problem. The test is also normally used on people who suffer from diseases that influence bladder behavior, such as spina bifida, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy.

The test is normally performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure generally takes between 30 and 45 minutes. If a patient is taking certain medications, a cystometrogram can not be done, as the medications may distort the results of the test. It must also be delayed if any trace of a urinary tract infection is evident or if the patient has a fever.

The procedure involves the insertion of two catheters into the body. A small rectal catheter is used to calculate pressure in the abdominal cavity. Another tiny catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to measure pressure there. External anesthesia ointments are normally applied to the areas of catheter insertion.

Both catheters are then hooked up to a measuring device. Water enhanced with a saline solution is smoothly and slowly pumped into the bladder. At this point, the patient is quizzed about the physical feelings they are experiencing to determine the medical problem. When the test is over, the bladder is emptied and the tubes removed.

No fasting or ingestion of cleansing agents is required prior to undergoing a cystometrogram. A significant number of patients experience slight discomfort in urinating for up to 48 hours after the test. To ease this discomfort, the doctor frequently recommends that the patient increase their daily water intake to 34 to 68 ounces (one to two liters) during this time. There is a slight chance of minor infection at the points at which the catheters are inserted.

After the cystometrogram results are analyzed by the physician or laboratory, the doctor normally discusses treatment options with the patient. These may include a regimen of one or more prescription medications. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the problem.

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Discussion Comments
By anon345039 — On Aug 15, 2013

Are male children given this test under the age of 12? If so, is it recommended for the male child (under age 12) to be catheterized as often as every six hours?

By sweetPeas — On Jun 26, 2011

Most of us have the idea that women are much more likely to suffer from incontinence. I went to a clinic with my husband on urinary problems in men. We discovered that many men also have problems with incontinence. But men often do not report their urinary problems until they get really bad.

Besides prostate problems causing incontinence, other causes of incontinence for men are emotional tension, leakage from coughing or laughing, over filling of the bladder, and urgency because of some type of disease.

It's just as important for men as for women to get to the doctor, and have needed tests, such as a cystometrogram. Most urinary problems can be helped with medication, surgery, or other treatments.

By PinkLady4 — On Jun 23, 2011

Gee, medical terms are getting long. I don't see how doctors and nurses can remember them all.

This procedure sounds like it doesn't require too much preparation like some invasive tests do.

Itis probably set up as a regular part of the treatment of such conditions as spina bifida, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. But if you are bothered by urine incontinence, you tend to ignore it, if it happens just once in a while.

As the article says, though, it's good to go ahead and have the test because a more serious problem may be found.

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