To diagnose IC, your urologist or urogynecologist will review your medical history and symptoms. Your doctor will ask about your pattern and level of pain, as well as urinary symptoms. To help rule out other conditions, you may need some lab tests. Often you will be asked to keep a diary of your bladder symptoms, urination, and fluid intake. Women who are diagnosed with IC typically experience pain, burning, pressure, and discomfort in the bladder for more than six weeks with no other apparent cause. Some women go years with symptoms before diagnosis.
To help determine if you have IC, your doctor may use a lighted scope with a camera to look at the inside of the urethra and the bladder. This procedure is called a cystoscopy. When a cystoscopy is performed on women with IC, the bladder may appear inflamed and irritated. Cystoscopy in the office is usually easily tolerated, but may be more uncomfortable for a patient with IC. For this reason, your surgeon might want to perform this test under anesthesia. Pinpoint sites of bleeding (glomerulations) can be seen on the bladder wall, especially after hydrodistention. These findings are NOT diagnostic for IC and can be found in other conditions.
During your evaluation, your doctor may want to perform a group of tests using a set of catheters connected to a computer to evaluate your bladder function in terms of filling and emptying. This test is called urodynamics. It is not used to diagnose IC. It is used to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.