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Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis

Symptoms of interstitial cystitis are similar to other bladder disorders, and unfortunately there is no simple, definitive test to positively diagnose the condition. Your doctor will usually begin by ruling out other diseases affecting the urinary tract and bladder before trying to confirm interstitial cystitis.

Physical examination

It is crucial to perform a good physical examination to rule out certain conditions that can mimic interstitial cystitis. The most common condition that is missed is pelvic floor dysfunction. More than 85 percent of patients with the symptoms of interstitial cystitis have severe spasm of the pelvic muscles that leads to urinary urgency, frequency, pelvic pain and painful intercourse. If this condition is found, managing the pelvic floor often resolves the symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

Urinalysis with microscopy and culture

A urinalysis is one of the first tests ordered when considering a diagnosis and is commonly used to rule out other conditions. Cultures should be negative for fungi, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomonal species (single-celled parasites) with a positive result pointing towards a different condition other than interstitial cystitis.

Urine cytology

A urine cytology is often ordered when blood is present in the urine, and can help rule out other diseases like bladder or urethral cancers.