Initial evaluation of interstitial cystitis (IC) includes a patient history, physical exam and review of symptoms. Four key diagnostic clues that may indicate IC are: (1) bladder and pelvic pain or discomfort, (2) urinary urgency and frequency, (3) symptoms that persist for more than six weeks, and (4) negative results of lab tests checking for urinary tract or other infection.

During the physical exam, the doctor will check your abdomen and pelvic area for tenderness. This helps the doctor better understand the cause of the symptoms and look for abnormal growths in the pelvic area, vaginitis, urethritis, prostatitis, and other conditions that can cause pelvic pain and discomfort that is similar to IC. Your doctor may also order some lab tests to rule out other disorders such as urinary tract infection (UTI).

Healthcare providers may use questionnaires to help evaluate the severity of your symptoms. Some of these assessment tools help the doctor better understand your patterns of voiding such as how often and how much you urinate. These tools also help physicians better understand the pain you are experiencing and give insights into initial pain management needs. Examples of assessment tools include:

  • Global Response Assessment (GRA)
  • O’Leary Sant Symptom and Problem Indexes
  • Pelvic Pain and Urgency/Frequency Patient Symptom Scale (PUF questionnaire)
  • NIH-Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (NIH-CPSI)

For more complicated cases, doctors may conduct additional tests. Also, though still commonly used by many clinicians, the American Urological Association (AUA) IC treatment guidelines do not support using the potassium sensitivity test to diagnosis IC.

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Revised Wednesday, March 25th, 2015