How is IC usually Diagnosed?

*I am not a medical professional.  All descriptions of procedures and information are from my personal experiences as an IC patients.   This is not ment to replace the advice or information from your DR. 

IC can be difficult to diagnose.  Mainly because there is no one test that DR’s use.  Because of this it can also be time consuming. 

The number one way to begin the diagnostic journey is to rule out all other possible medical conditions.  IC symptoms often mimic other conditions.  unfortunately those with IC have a higher probability of having other conditions along with it.  Mainly things like endometriosis(which is what I have), IBS, pelvic floor dysfunction and auto-immune conditions.  But I will be posting more on that soon. 

In many cases a trip to other specialists is not uncommon.  Usually a gastrointerologist and a gynecologist to test for any other abdominal conditions.  In my case I had an endoscopy and laperscopy before they were able to give me a diagnosis of IC.  And although it is time consuming it is important to make sure there is nothing else going on or even adding to the IC symptoms.  Endometriosis and IBS can wreak havoc on IC pain, adding to urgency and menstrual cycle symptoms. 

 After any other conditions are ruled out or treated, and the symptom still persist, a bladder distention under Anestesia is usually performed. This is always done under Anestesia if IC is suspected.  This is because the preocess is intolerable for those with IC. It is a procedure where a catheter and small camera are inserted through the urethra and into the bladder.  The Urologist then begins to fill the bladder with liquid.  As the bladder stretches to its capacity, the Dr can see through the small camera any signs of IC.  The two common physical signs of IC are pinpoint bleeding, resembling just that, little pinpoint spots that look like blood.  And Hunners Ulcers.  While the urologist is looking for those signs, the bladder is filled to its capacity to test how much urine it can hold.  In some cases the bladder has gotten smaller and isn’t able to hold the “normal” amount of urine.  But more often, the bladder has what is seen as a normal capacity, and our urgency is due to the pain the urine creates while the bladder is filling up.  At this time the DR may also want to take a biopsy of the bladder to make sure there is no signs of cancer.  But please remember that a risk of cancer is in no way associated with IC. 

I do want to put some at ease by saying that although there are physical signs in the bladder which are unique to IC, symptoms of IC can be felt before the actual signs are visible.  So if your experiencing all the symptoms,  and have a clean distention, please don’t feel crazy or give up hope.  The bladder signs may not have appeared yet and  you may want to request another procedure  after a few months if symptoms persist.

When you wake up from the procedure, they will wait for you to void and measure the cc’s of urine you are able to put out.  From what I know of this, its done in-case a problem with voiding occurs.  The pain after the distention isn’t always as bad as you imagine.  In-fact until you urinate you may feel like you would any other day.  But your first void after the distention can be very painful.  In my instance I felt as though I was urinating razor blades.  I don’t know the exact reason for this, but can imagine it has to do with how long the catheter was in the urethra.

In some cases the bladder symptoms may improve after a distention for a bit of time.  If this is the case the DR may want to repeat the process in the future.  But if that’s not your case, don’t worry. It doesn’t happen for everyone and in my case, only exacerbated my pain in the following days. 

I do also want to note that the uro may perform the distention before the ruling out of any other conditions.  This is only the most common route, not always the one taken. 

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