The biggest hurdle for any IC patient in India is to get diagnosed. In most cases patients remain un-diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Therefore if you have symptoms like lower abdominal pain for more than few weeks which increases when your bladder is full, pelvic pain, frequent urination often as many as 20 times and urgency to pass urine. You might be suffering from interstitial cystitis. You might have associated symptoms like constant pressure in the pelvic region, burning sensation, burning while passing urine, painful intercourse, back pain and burning feet. If you have been suffering from the above mentioned symptoms then the best way is to visit an Urologist.
Unlike a urinary tract infection, interstitial cystitis cannot be diagnosed with a simple urinalysis or urine culture. Rather, it’s a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that the urologist will first take a thorough history and then perform tests designed to rule out other diseases. These include infection, bladder stones, bladder cancer, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, and sexually transmitted diseases. As IC has overlapping symptoms with other diseases the doctor would follow a process of elimination to establish IC.
Pelvic Exam: First the doctor would do a pelvic exam. During a pelvic exam, the doctor examines external genitals, vagina and cervix and feels the abdomen to assess internal pelvic organs.
Urine Tests: The urologist would initially ask you to do urine routine test and urine culture. This would help them to rule out Urinary Tract Infection.
USG of KUB: Ultrasonography (USG) of the KUB (Kidney, urethras, bladders) helps them to rule out any abnormality in the KUB. It would also help the doctor see the post void urine volume.
Cystoscopy with hydrodistension: The doctor may possibly do a procedure called cystoscopy with hydrodistension, which is performed under general anesthesia. In cystoscopy, the doctor inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera (cystoscope) through the urethra, which allows the doctor to see the lining of bladder. Along with cystoscopy, your doctor may inject liquid into your bladder to measure your bladder capacity. Your doctor may perform this procedure, known as hydrodistention, after you've been numbed with an anesthetic medication to make you more comfortable. Interestingly, distending the bladder can itself be therapeutic. About half of patients get some relief for about three months after the procedure. The most common sign of interstitial cystitis is red pinpoint spots of blood (glomerulations) covering much of the bladder wall surface. Sometimes there are scars or lesions called Hunner’s ulcers, accompanied by low bladder capacity due to tissue stiffening (fibrosis).
Biopsy: During cystoscopy, the doctor may take a biopsy (tissue sample) of the bladder to rule out bladder cancer and look for evidence of the mast cells that indicate an allergic reaction or autoimmune response.
Urodynamic Studies: An urodynamic study is not essential to diagnose IC, however it remains important for the confirmation of the clinical symptoms of IC. An urodynamic study may also be useful in selecting the therapeutic modalities for IC.