For women who have a pelvic floor disorder, it can be frustrating to deal with symptoms that don’t go away. At the Women & Infants Center, our specialists have extensive experience in assessing and diagnosing all types of pelvic floor disorders. Our team performs a complete diagnostic evaluation and works with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your needs.
Women & Infants Center: Diagnosing Pelvic Floor Disorders
When you see our urogynecologists (doctors who specialize in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery), we begin by discussing your symptoms with you. We also perform a physical examination. Our experienced team focuses on the entire pelvic floor and performs a detailed pelvic floor muscle examination.
All the information we gather through examinations and testing helps us provide you with the most successful treatment for the pelvic floor condition you are experiencing.
Tests for Urinary Incontinence
If your doctor suspects that you may have urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control), you may need one or more of these bladder tests:
Your doctor uses a tiny camera inserted through the urethra to look inside the bladder. At the Women & Infants Center, we use topical anesthesia (medication applied to the skin) so you will be more comfortable during the procedure.
During this procedure, your doctor can examine the inside of your bladder and identify any abnormalities. Learn more about cystoscopy.
Multichannel urodynamic test
This test measures how your bladder works and determines at what point it leaks. It also assesses if you’re able to fully empty your bladder.
Our trained nurses insert a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the urethra and fill your bladder with sterile water. Your doctor interprets the test and reviews the results with you.
Tests for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Your doctor can assess pelvic organ prolapse (pelvic organs that shift because of weakened muscle and tissue support) by performing a physical and pelvic exam. If your doctor needs imaging of your pelvic region to confirm a diagnosis, you may need a pelvic ultrasound.
If you are also experiencing incontinence, you may need one or more of the bladder tests described above.
Tests for Fecal Incontinence
If you have symptoms of fecal incontinence (loss of control of bowel movements), your doctor may order one or more of these tests:
- Defecogram: This special X-ray uses dye to show the intestines, to help your doctor detect problems during elimination.
- Anal-rectal manometry: In this test, your doctor inserts a catheter with a balloon into the rectum to measure sensitivity and pressure in the area.
For various pelvic floor disorders, you may need a pelvic ultrasound. This imaging test provides a view of pelvic organs and shows any structural abnormalities. There are two types of pelvic ultrasound:
- Transabdominal: An ultrasound technician passes a small device (transducer) over the lower abdomen to produce the images.
- Transvaginal: The technician inserts a specially shaped transducer into the vagina to obtain images.
If you need an ultrasound, you will work with an imaging team that specializes in performing ultrasound imaging for women. Our technicians who perform the test and the doctors who read them all have extensive experience. We work to ensure that you have a comfortable experience and receive a detailed, accurate reading.
Personalized Treatment Options for Pelvic Floor Disorders
After confirming a diagnosis, your doctor creates an individualized treatment plan to help you meet your health care and quality of life goals. We offer a full range of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options.
If needed, our urogynecologists can perform the most advanced surgical treatment options to restore function. Your treatments may also involve our pelvic floor physical therapists, gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons.
To make an appointment with a Washington University urogynecologist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.