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Diagnostic Tests for Incontinence

Diagnostic Test list for Incontinence:

The list of diagnostic tests mentioned in various sources as used in the diagnosis of Incontinence includes:

  • Physical examination
    • Inspect anal area for lesions - e.g. anal fissure, rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids or evidence of anal trauma.
    • Digital rectal examination to examine for a mass, to determine sphincter tone and competence and examine for enlarged prostate. If sphincter tone is normal consider diarrhea or anorectal conditions as a cause of bowel incontinence. If sphincter tone is abnormal consider congenital abnormalities, neurological conditions, rectal prolapse or trauma to sphincter as causes for bowel incontinence. If urinary incontinence and prostate or bladder is found to be enlarged should consider overflow incontinence from bladder neck obstruction, prostatic hypertrophy and tuberculosis of the bladder
    • May be asked to bear down while the examiner looks for a rectal prolapse
    • Cranial nerve examination
    • Examine the reflexes in the legs. If bowel incontinence and reflexes are under active may suggest a spinal cord tumor, trauma to the spinal cord, multiple sclerosis, meningioma (tumor of the covering membrane of the brain), transverse myelitis (inflammation of the entire thickness of the spinal cord) and syringomyelia (cavities in the spinal cord). If urinary incontinence and reflexes are under active may suggest poliomyelitis, spinal stenosis, diabetic neuropathy, neurosyphilis or cauda equina syndrome. If bowel incontinence and reflexes are over active may suggest tabes dorsalis (advanced form of syphilis affecting the nervous system), a cauda equina tumor, spinal cord stenosis. If urinary incontinence and reflexes are over active this suggests spastic neurogenic bladder due to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord tumor, spinal cord trauma and a parasagittal meningioma
    • Vaginal examination - looking for uterine prolapse, cystocoele or rectocoele.
  • Blood tests
    • Full blood count, ESR
    • Urea and electrolytes
    • Syphilis screen if appropriate
  • Urine tests (if urinary incontinence)
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy and Barium enema - to exclude rectal cancer and to look for prolapse, hemorrhoids, proctitis (inflammation of the rectum).
  • Radiological investigations (depending on suspicion and findings on physical examination)
    • If reflexes are over active and there are cranial nerve signs perform CT Scan or MRI of Brain
    • If reflexes are overactive in all 4 limbs but there are no cranial nerve signs perform MRI of the cervical spinal cord
    • If reflexes are over active in legs only perform MRI of thoracic spinal cord
    • If reflexes are under active in the legs perform an MRI or CT Scan of lumbar spine
    • Intra-anal ultrasound scan - may identify a defect in the anal sphincter.
    • Bladder ultrasound scan to measure for residual urine. Fifty milliliters or more is considered abnormal
    • Transrectal prostatic ultrasound scan can determine the prostate size
  • Cystoscopy - may be necessary with urinary incontinence to determine if there is chronic bladder inflammation or bladder neck obstruction.
  • Spinal tap - to help diagnose multiple sclerosis or tabes dorsalis.
  • Anorectal manometry ( to measure the pressure in the anus and rectum) and Proctography - may be used to detect anal and rectal muscle dysfunction.
  • Urodynamic studies - can help distinguish between urinary stress and urgency incontinency.

Home Diagnostic Testing

These home medical tests may be relevant to Incontinence causes:

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Incontinence:

The following list of conditions have 'Incontinence' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Incontinence or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Incontinence:

The following list of medical conditions have 'Incontinence' or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.


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