Definition & Overview
Uroflowmetry is a diagnostic procedure used to measure the amount of urine and the speed at which it is released. The procedure, which is also known as a uroflow test, is used to diagnose various conditions affecting the urinary tract of which urination problems, such as difficulty urinating and slow urination, present as symptoms.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Uroflowmetry is recommended for patients with urination problems, including the following:
- Slow urination, which can be a symptom of partial bladder obstruction
- Urinary hesitancy, or a difficulty starting and maintaining a urine stream
- Urinary retention, or the inability to urinate, causing swelling and discomfort in the bladder that can lead to the development of serious health problems
- Increased urinary frequency, or a sudden and unexplained increase in the average number of times a person urinates in a day
- Urinary incontinence, or the inability to control or hold back the flow of urine.
Urination problems are commonly symptoms of the following medical conditions that affect the urinary system:
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Urinary blockage – Any obstruction along the urinary tract can block the tube through which urine passes, causing urine flow to slow down. In severe obstructions, urine may become completely trapped. Obstructions are often caused by tumours, benign growths, and scar tissue.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections – These refer to infections affecting any part of the urinary tract such as the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and ureter
- Neurogenic bladder dysfunction – A condition characterised by the inability to control the bladder due to problems with the brain, spinal cord, or the lower urinary tract’s neuromuscular structure
- Enlarged prostate gland or benign prostatic hyperplasia
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy
- Weak muscles in the bladder
Urine flow problems can also be triggered or worsened by other medical causes or health problems, including:
- Nervous system disorders
- Surgical complications
- Certain medications, such as cold remedies, anti-allergy medicines, tricyclic antidepressants, and some vitamins and supplements
How is the Procedure Performed?
On the day of the procedure, the patient is asked to urinate in a toilet or urinal fitted with a measuring device called an electronic uroflowmeter. It is important that the patient urinates as he normally would without attempting to slow or speed up his urine flow. The machine will automatically measure the following:
- The amount of urine released
- The speed at which it was released (flow rate per second)
- How long the entire urination lasted before the bladder was emptied completely
- The severity of bladder obstruction, if a blockage is suspected
The results are then compared to the normal urine flow values, which tend to vary based on a person’s age and gender.
If the patient’s results are below the normal values, a urination problem is thus confirmed. The physician will use the test results, along with other factors and tests, to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
In some cases, uroflowmetry is performed before and after some treatment procedures to gauge their effectiveness.
Possible Risks and Complications
Since the test only requires the patient to urinate as he normally does, it is not linked to risks and complications. The patient is also not expected to experience any discomfort during the procedure.
- Singla S., Garg R., Singla A. et al. “Experience with uroflowmetry in evaluation of lower urinary tract symptoms in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia.” J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Apr;8(4). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4064883/