How are pelvic floor disorders diagnosed?

A physical exam may be all that is needed to diagnose a PFD. In some cases, a woman’s health care provider will see or feel a bulge that suggests a prolapse during a routine pelvic exam. In other cases, a woman may see her doctor about symptoms she is experiencing, such as problems with bladder or bowel control.

Depending on the findings from the exam or the severity of the symptoms, tests may be performed.1 Some tests used to help with the diagnosis or with treatment planning include:

  • Anal manometry (pronounced muh-NOM-i-tree). This test evaluates the strength of the anal sphincter muscles.1, 2
  • Cystoscopy (pronounced si-STOS-kuh-pee). This test is used to look inside the bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder and discharges it outside the body) to look for problems, such as kidney stones, tumors, or inflammation.2
  • Dynamic defecography (pronounced def-uh-COG-ruh-fee). This test is used to evaluate the pelvic floor and rectum while the patient is having a bowel movement.1, 3
  • Endoanal ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to form a picture of the anal sphincter muscles for evaluation.1, 3
  • Urodynamics. This test is used to evaluate how well the bladder and urethra are working.2 It can help identify women with bladder control problems who would most likely benefit from surgery.1

  1. Kuncharapu, I., Majeroni, B. A., & Johnson, D. W. (2010). Pelvic organ prolapse. American Family Physician, 81, 1111-1117.
  2. American Urogynecologic Society. (2008). Bladder tests. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from External Web Site Policy
  3. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. (2009). Testing of the anorectal and pelvic floor area. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from External Web Site Policy

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