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Uroflowmetry

What is uroflowmetry?

Doctors use uroflowmetry to test the amount of urine and the speed of urination. This test is called a “uroflow test.” It can help your doctor identify the cause of either slow urination or difficulty urinating.

Why is a uroflow test done?

Your doctor may recommend a uroflow test if you have slow urination or difficulty urinating. They may also use the test to determine how well your urinary tract and sphincter muscle are functioning. The sphincter muscle is a circular muscle that closes tightly around the bladder opening. It helps to prevent urine leakage.

Results from the test can help your doctor determine how well your bladder and sphincter are functioning. It can also be used to test for obstructions in the normal flow of urine. By measuring the average and maximum rates of your urine flow, the test can estimate the severity of any blockage or obstruction. It can also help identify other urinary problems, such as a weak bladder or an enlarged prostate.

Certain conditions can affect your normal urine flow. These conditions include:

  • benign prostatic hypertrophy, or enlargement of the prostate gland, which can block the urethra completely
  • bladder cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • a urinary blockage
  • neurogenic bladder dysfunction, or trouble with the bladder due to a nervous system problem such as spinal cord tumor or injury
  • frequent urinary tract infections

Preparing for a uroflow test

You’ll need to give a urine sample. It may seem awkward or uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t experience any physical discomfort during the test.

Be sure to arrive at your doctor’s office with a full bladder. Ideally, you shouldn’t urinate for several hours before the appointment. You should drink plenty of liquids to make sure you have enough urine for the test.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you may be. You should also tell your doctor about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and any supplements you’re taking. Certain medications can interfere with bladder function.

Uroflow test process

Unlike traditional urine tests in which you urinate into a cup, you’ll need to urinate into a funnel-shaped device or a special toilet for the uroflow test. It’s important that you don’t put any toilet tissue on or in the toilet or device.

It’s best to urinate as you normally would, without attempting to manipulate the speed or flow in any way. An electronic uroflowmeter hooked up to the funnel or toilet measures the speed and quantity of urination. You must refrain from urinating until the machine is turned on.

The uroflowmeter calculates the amount of urine you pass, the flow rate in seconds, and the length of time it takes to empty your bladder completely. It will record this information on a chart. During normal urination, your initial urine stream begins slowly, speeds up, and then finally slows down again. The uroflowmeter can record any differences from the norm to help your doctor make a diagnosis.

When you’re finished urinating, the machine will report your results. Your doctor will then discuss the findings with you. Depending on your specific case, you may need to perform the urine test on several consecutive days.

Understanding the results of your uroflow test

Your doctor will use the results to determine your peak flow rate, or “Qmax.” Doctors generally use the peak flow rate to determine the severity of any blockage or obstruction.

A decrease in urine flow may suggest you have a blockage in the urethra or weak bladder muscles.

An increase in urine flow may suggest you have weakness in the muscles that help control the flow of urine. This may also be a sign of urinary incontinence.

After testing the flow of urine, your doctor will take your individual situation and symptoms into account before they develop a treatment plan. You should discuss the results of your test with your doctor. They can help you determine if treatment is necessary and what options you have if you do need treatment. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any problems urinating. It could be the sign of a more serious health condition.


Content licensed from:

Written by: Amber Erickson Gabbey and Brian Wu
Published on: Aug 07, 2012
Medically reviewed on: May 24, 2017: Judith Marcin, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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