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Urodynamic studies (tests) for the management of urinary incontinence in children and adults

Clement K, Lapitan M, Omar M, Glazener CMA
Published Online: 
29 October 2013

Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine and is the inability to retain urine in the bladder between voluntary acts of urination. It has a number of different causes. Urodynamic tests are used to measure nerve and muscle function, pressure around and in the bladder, flow rates, and other factors which might help to explain why someone leaks urine or what type of leakage they have. Some people find these tests embarrassing and uncomfortable. However, they might show what the cause of the incontinence is, or what sort of incontinence the person has, so that the correct treatment can be chosen. This might improve the success of the treatment.

Eight trials were found, which included around 1100 people, although information was only available for 1036 women. There was not enough evidence to determine whether the urodynamic tests led to better outcomes. There was some evidence that urodynamic testing increased the number of people given drugs but not the number of people undergoing surgery. This did not result in any difference in the number of people who leaked urine, and it was not known whether they had a better quality of life.

More research is needed in which people are randomised to having treatment decisions based on either their symptoms and examination alone or after taking into account the extra information provided by urodynamic tests.