Screening for interstitial cystitis isn’t easy, as there are no definitive tests for IC and IC symptoms are often similar to those of other urinary disorders. IC is diagnosed by a process of elimination—in other words, by ruling out other causes.
The diagnosis will generally begin with a medical history and physical examination, including a pelvic exam. After that, one or more of the following tests may be employed:
- Urinalysis: This urine test involves a laboratory exam looking for various cells and chemicals, such as infection, excessive protein, white blood cells and red blood cells. A urine culture and cytology, which looks for abnormal cells in the urine that may indicate urinary tract cancers, may also be taken.
- Cystoscopy: A flexible tube with a viewing device is inserted through the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural anomalies or obstructions, including stones or tumors.
- Bladder wall biopsy: Tissues from the bladder wall are removed and examined under a microscope to see if cancer or abnormal cells are present.
- Potassium sensitivity test: The PST tests the integrity of the bladder wall. A potassium chloride solution and sterile water are instilled into the bladder; increased pain indicates epithelial dysfunction.
- Video urodynamics: This test shows how much urine is in the bladder before the patient feels the urge to urinate.