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Doctors use uroflowmetry to test the amount of urine voided during urination. It also measures the speed of urination. The test is called a uroflow test. It can help your doctor identify the causes of certain urinary difficulties.
Your doctor may recommend a uroflow test if you have slow urination, a weak urine stream, or difficulty urinating. They may also use it to test your sphincter muscle. 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. The test 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 weakened bladder or an enlarged prostate.
Certain conditions can affect your normal urine flow. These conditions include:
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. 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.
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 not urinate until the machine is turned on.
The uroflowmeter calculates the amount of urine you pass, the flow rate in milliliters per second, 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.
Your doctor will use the results to determine your peak flow rate, or Qmax. Doctors generally use the peak flow rate, along with your voiding pattern and urine volumes, to determine the severity of any blockage or obstruction.
A decrease in urine flow may suggest you have weak bladder muscles or a blockage in the urethra.
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 may need additional urinary system testing. 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.
Written by: Amber Erickson Gabbey and Brian Wu
Medically reviewed on: May 24, 2017: Judith Marcin, MD
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