Urodynamics are tests that measure how the lower urinary tract functions. The lower urinary tract is made up of the bladder (which stores urine) and the urethra (the tubes that connect the bladder to the outside). Urodynamic tests show how the bladder stores and empties pee.
Video urodynamic tests use x-rays and digital equipment to get a clear picture of how the urinary system works. The test measures the bladder’s storage pressure with small tubes that are placed in the bladder and rectum. We observe the bladder using video technology while it fills or empties. The video images also display the bladder’s size and shape.
A physician may recommend urodynamic testing when your child has the following symptoms and they do not respond to normal treatments:
- Leakage of urine
- Frequent or painful urination
- Sudden, strong need to pee
- Problems starting a urine stream or completely emptying the bladder
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Spina bifida or other spinal abnormalities
- Spinal cord trauma
Urodynamic tests help us identify urologic conditions and treatments by looking at how the lower urinary tract functions when your child uses the bathroom.
What to Expect
What to Expect
You may be given instructions for a bowel cleansing using a stool softener, suppository or enema a few days before the procedure. A urinalysis and urine culture are usually done 10 days before the test. If they are positive, your child may require antibiotics to treat any infection. This helps us obtain the best and safest test results.
The staff at Riley at IU Health will make every effort to keep you and your child comfortable before, during and after the procedure. Our Child Life professionals support children by preparing them for the test. During the test, they help minimize any discomfort your child may have, using play as a distraction.
Here are some key points to share with your child before the procedure:
- You or your child’s caregiver will be together the entire time—usually 60-90 minutes.
- A small tube (like a straw) is placed to bring urine out to the skin.
- Catheter insertion may be uncomfortable in some situations, and your child may feel the need to go to the bathroom.
- When your child relaxes and follows the team’s instructions, insertion of the catheter goes smoothly and quickly.
If your child can pee, he or she will use the bathroom on a uroflow machine until his/her bladder feels empty before the test starts. This helps us understand how your child uses muscles that support urination. Next, the following monitors are placed on his/her body:
- Electrodes (stickers) on the skin near the rectum monitor how well the sphincter muscle works.
- A thin tube (catheter) in the rectum measures how the stomach muscles work to help your child go to the bathroom.
Another catheter is inserted in the bladder to check the function. Once the catheters and monitors are in place, testing follows this order:
- Fluid (usually x-ray dye) slowly fills the bladder, similar to how the bladder fills on its own.
- As the bladder fills, we monitor bladder pressure on a specialized urodynamic computer and other equipment. We keep your child still and quietly distracted to minimize misinterpretation of activity inside the bladder. This process can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes and the filling/emptying cycle may need to be repeated if results are unclear.
- When your child’s bladder is full (and if they pee on their own at home) they will be asked to try to pee, or they will start peeing if not potty-trained. Usually this can be done around the tiny catheter, either sitting or lying. Some children have difficulty peeing while they are on the table. This is a very important part of the test.
After the test, all catheters and monitors are removed and your child can get dressed.
What to Bring
It is natural for your child to have some stress or anxiety before any test. You are welcome to bring any items that bring comfort, such as a favorite stuffed animal, book, pacifier, bottle or blanket. There is also a DVD player and TV available to watch their favorite movies.
You will want to bring a full change of clothes in case your child has an accident (pees on himself/herself) after the procedure.
Your child may still feel the need to pee and may experience minor irritation from the catheter. Most symptoms disappear within 24 to 48 hours. To alleviate discomfort, your doctor may recommend:
- Soaking in a warm bath or holding a warm, damp washcloth over the urethral opening
- Drinking plenty of liquids to dilute the urine and help decrease any pain when your child pees
- Taking an over-the-counter pain medication or an antibiotic to prevent infection
It is not uncommon for children to have blood in their urine, burning or discomfort when peeing afterwards. If your child has chills, pain, fever or rash or shows signs of an infection, call 317.944.5000 immediately to speak with a physician.
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- Urodynamic tests measure how the lower urinary tract functions.
- Your child’s condition can be diagnosed by duplicating his/her voiding patterns—the physical changes that happen when he/she urinates.
- You can help by keeping a diary of how often your child goes to the bathroom, how urgent peeing is and when and how often peeing accidents occur. This information helps us correlate test results with the symptoms your child has at home. Please bring this information to your appointment.
- Our pediatric specialists help you and your child feel as comfortable as possible before, during and after the procedure.
- Your child’s doctor may recommend drinking liquids, taking over-the-counter medications or other steps to alleviate any discomfort after the tests.
Support Services & Resources
Support Services & Resources
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This National Institutes of Health website offers information and links related to urinary and kidney conditions.
This resource is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and provides information to help parents understand urologic conditions
This organization supports pediatricians and offers information for parents on diagnosis and treatment of urologic conditions through their website, HealthyChildren.org.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.