Pediatric Urodynamic Study 

Our daughter’s Spina Bifida has resulted in her having neurogenic bladder and needing to be cathed every four hours to ensure bladder emptying. A pediatric urologist annually monitors her bladder and kidneys through renal ultrasounds and another study called urodynamics. We have found that this study can be somewhat scary for kids but if you know what to expect ahead of time, some of that fear can be alleviated.

The test takes place in a private room with a table in the middle. There is an ultrasound screen and x-ray equipment attached to the table to take pictures of her bladder at various stages of fullness. There is a good bit of medical equipment in the room so prepare your child ahead of time for this. Fortunately, most offices have a TV and DVD player in the room, as a much needed distraction for the kids, as the procedure takes place. Our office encouraged us to bring along any of Maddie’s favorite DVDs, if we wanted.

It is important to note that these tests can take a while and delays can occur – especially when dealing with children. Brace yourself for what could be a very long visit. We always make sure to plan a fun outing afterwards to make up for the long day spent in the doctor’s office.

When it comes time for the urodynamic study, for us, this is what happens.

Maddie lies down on the table. They place tiny sensors on her to measure the activity of her muscles and sphincters. The nurse inserts a special catheter – used to fill and empty the bladder. It has a pressure measuring device in it to measure the pressure inside her bladder. The monitors record every step of the process. The doctor will be able to look at factors such as bladder capacity, bladder pressures, and leak point, as well as monitor to make sure there is no reflux back into the kidneys. The whole process from the point of catheter insertion probably took ten to fifteen minutes.

We were able to stay right at the head of the table with her the whole time. We made sure to talk to Maddie during the process, assuring her that the nurse was just cathing her and taking pictures of her bladder. We were able to hold her hands for comfort, and to keep her from reaching at anything or getting in the way. When the test is finished, the nurse may not give you results at the moment. You will more than likely have to come back for a subsequent visit to receive them.

For us, urodynamic studies are necessary to ensure Maddie’s urinary tract is functioning as well as it can. They also provide valuable insight that can influence decisions about cathing and other care.The day is sure to be long, and maybe a little taxing, but doesn’t have to be full of fear and uncertainty if you are educated in advance.


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