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Using Ultrasounds To Diagnose Incontinence In Women

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If you have been struggling with incontinence and the common treatments aren't working, your doctor may recommend a pelvic or perineal ultrasound to get a better look at the problem. Ultrasound technology allows medical professionals to image your internal organs and, to an extent, their contents, potentially offering a helpful clue to the cause of your bladder control issues. These four possible ultrasound findings may both explain your incontinence and how to begin treating it more effectively.  

Measuring Your Bladder's Efficiency 

By conducting an ultrasound before, during and after urination, your doctor will be able to better assess how effectively your bladder is voiding itself. The bladder relies on brief spikes of pressure facilitated by your muscles and pelvis to discharge urine. If the bladder can only muster enough pressure to empty itself halfway during urination, it may explain a constant feeling of needing to urinate. Similarly, your bladder may not have enough pressure to hold itself closed. By watching how your urinary tract and pelvic floor respond to urination, your doctor can also look for signs of dysfunction as it occurs and isolate the organ or structure that is causing the trouble. 

Examining for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Your pelvic floor acts as a sort of sling that holds up your pelvic organs. When this structure is weakened, it can no longer exert the pressure needed to control your bladder or bowels. Studies have found significant differences in the pelvic floor muscles of women with and without incontinence, which were only noticeable through a perineal ultrasound. During the ultrasound, your doctor may have you cough or exert another form of stress on your system to see how these muscles react. 

Catching Pelvic Organ Prolapses

In some cases, particularly after childbirth or surgery, your bladder or another pelvic organ may drop into your vagina, where it is unable to function effectively. This is called a pelvic organ prolapse, and in severe situations, you won't need an ultrasound to notice it. But minor prolapses can be more difficult to diagnose without an ultrasound to confirm the abnormal location of the organ in question.     

Discovering Structural Irregularities in Your Pelvis

When all other possible issues are ruled out, your doctor will likely begin measuring and examining the dimensions of your pelvis and urinary tract. Some women are simply built differently than others, and that can lead to incontinence on a structural level. This natural disorder is often treatable through corrective surgery, or you may need to learn to live with the side-effects. Whatever the final diagnosis, you should be able to rest easier after an ultrasound service (such as is provided by has successfully narrowed down the cause of your incontinence and pointed you toward more relevant treatment options.