Ambulatory Bladder Function Tests

This page gives you details about some tests which can be carried out on your bladder.

These may have been described as ambulatory urodynamics or ambulatory cystometry or bladder function tests.

You may already have had some bladder function tests, which were inconclusive. Ambulatory tests allow your bladder to fill normally and allow you to perform the activities, which might usually cause your troublesome urinary symptoms.

You may feel quite anxious about the prospect of these investigations. There is nothing complicated, dangerous or painful about them. They may be slightly embarrassing and the following information is intended to ease some of your worries.

Please allow plenty of time for your appointment as the test itself may take up to four hours to complete.

There is no special preparation for the tests. However it is not possible to carry out the test if you are having your period. Please ring one of the numbers provided to arrange a new appointment if this occurs.

Please try not to be embarrassed by the possibility of leakage during the tests. In fact it makes it easier to diagnose your problem if leakage occurs.

Why carry out these tests?Show [+]Hide [-]

The tests are designed to investigate the way your bladder and urethra (bladder outlet) respond while filling, and how efficiently they empty during urination. This tells us a lot about how your bladder behaves normally, and what is causing the bladder to produce the symptoms of which you are complaining. There are many different reasons why urinary problems and leakage may occur and many different forms of treatment available.

With the information provided by these tests then the most appropriate treatment could be decided.

How are the tests carried out?Show [+]Hide [-]

Please bring with you loose clothing to wear during the tests, and something to read if you wish.

At the start of the test, after changing into your preferred clothing, you will be asked to empty your bladder on a special commode (in private), which measures how quickly you pass water.

When your bladder is empty a fine tube is passed into the bladder. This may be a little uncomfortable as it is being passed, but should not be painful. This tube is used to measure pressure. Another fine tube is passed into the rectum (back passage) or vagina (front passage) to give a comparison. The tubes will be taped to your leg to ensure they don’t fall out.

These tubes will be connected to a small box, which records and stores information about the activity in your bladder. The recorder is easily carried by a shoulder strap, allowing you to walk, sit and pass urine as necessary.

A special pad is also worn which measures the amount of urinary leakage. The pad is also connected to the recording box. Disposable knickers will be provided to accommodate the lines and pad. You will be able to walk around quite freely within the department with the tubes in place. They will not affect how you pass urine.

To have a more complete picture of bladder activity; the lines will be left in place for up to four hours. During this time you may drink as normal. You will be given a diary in which to record the times you notice any leakage, when you pass urine or when you have any feelings of urgency. In fact anything which mimics the problems you normally have with your bladder.

The tubes are removed at the end of the test.

Who carries out the tests?Show [+]Hide [-]

The tests are carried out by the nurse consultant or doctor in quiet, informal and private surroundings. A detailed history will be taken to gather as much information as possible about your bladder problems. Explanations will be given at every stage of the tests.

What happens after the tests?Show [+]Hide [-]

Following the tests you will usually feel no after effects whatever. You may feel some slight discomfort when passing urine on the first few occasions after completing the tests. Ensure that you drink plenty of fluids during the first 24 hours and this should settle quickly. If you still have some discomfort after this time you should take a sample of urine to your GP to ensure that there is no infection.

The GP or Practice Nurse may check the urine at the surgery and send a specimen to the laboratory for analysis. The G.P. may provide you with antibiotics if the specimen indicates the presence of infection. Although every precaution is taken to prevent infection, there is a small (2-10%) risk of introducing infection at the time of the tests.


The results can take some time to analyse, so will not be discussed after the tests. A letter detailing your results is then sent to your GP or Consultant, (whoever referred you for the tests). If there are any further questions about your treatment we would be happy to try to answer them, but they are sometimes best discussed with your GP or referring Consultant.

  • Tel: Liz Dixon Nurse Consultant on 0191 282 5670 (8.30am - 4.00pm) or
  • Tel: Cystometry Secretary on 0191 282 0456 (9.00am – 4.30pm)


You can download a PDF of the information in this page.

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