HomeSurgery ArticlesWhat is an Interstitial Cystitis (IC) Test and What Does it Mean?

What is an Interstitial Cystitis (IC) Test and What Does it Mean?

You’ve probably heard the term “Interstitial Cystitis (IC)” and what it means to have this condition. But if you haven’t been diagnosed, it can be challenging to determine what’s causing your symptoms. You’re not alone though. There are a lot of people who feel the same as you, especially during the diagnostic phase.

Most people with interstitial cystitis (IC) are tested with a cystoscopy or IC test before the surgical treatment. The purpose of the test is to determine if there are additional infections causing a relapse in symptoms after a treatment protocol has begun, as well as checking for possible recurring infections that might require different treatments.

The best way to prepare for surgery is to learn everything possible about your condition, so let’s dive into what an IC test is and what this means to you.

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) Explained

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic condition that causes bladder pain, pressure and frequent urination. You may have IC if you have bladder pain that’s often accompanied by the feeling that your bladder is never empty. You might also experience pressure in your pelvis or lower abdomen and need to urinate more frequently than usual.

The exact cause of IC isn’t known, but it appears to be related to inflammation in the walls of the bladder. This inflammation can make it difficult for your bladder to expand during urination, which leads to discomfort. Many people with IC find their symptoms start after an infection or other illness causes irritation of their urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder).

Many people with IC find their symptoms start after an infection or other illness causes irritation of their urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder). Other possible triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Injury to the bladder or urinary tract
  • Allergic reactions
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Birth control pills
  • Some medications

The symptoms of IC can be different for every person. The most common symptom is pelvic pain, which can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. The pain may be constant or come and go, and can be worse with certain activities or during certain times of the month.

What is an Interstitial Cystitis (IC) test?

An Interstitial Cystitis (IC) test is used to help diagnose IC. This test involves inserting a small, flexible tube (catheter) into the bladder through the urethra. Once the catheter is in place, the doctor will then fill the bladder with a sterile solution. This will help to expand the bladder so that the doctor can get a better view of the inside. The doctor may also take a biopsy during this procedure.  A doctor may ask you about your symptoms and then do a physical examination of your abdomen and pelvis. They may also recommend tests such as:

Blood tests

These can check for signs of inflammation like white blood cells or proteins in the urine. They can also look for evidence of infection or inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as the joints or kidneys. The doctor might also take a sample of urine to check for bacteria or crystals in it that could cause irritation in the bladder wall.

Urine culture

A culture involves collecting a sample of urine and growing bacteria from it so they can be identified by their appearance under a microscope. This can help the doctor determine if there’s an infection in the bladder.


This procedure involves inserting a thin tube called a cystoscope through the urethra and into the bladder. The cystoscope has a light and camera at the end of it, so the doctor can look directly into the bladder wall and urethra to check for inflammation or other abnormalities.


This test uses sound waves to create an image of the bladder and surrounding structures. It can be used to check for things like stones in the bladder or kidney.

CT scan

A CT scan uses X-rays to create a three-dimensional image of the bladder and surrounding structures. This can be used to check for things like bladder cancer or stones in the bladder or kidney.


An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create a three-dimensional image of the bladder and surrounding structures. This can be used to check for things like bladder cancer or stones in the bladder or kidney.

Why should I get an IC test?

IC is a difficult condition to diagnose because its symptoms can be very similar to other diseases and conditions. For example, pelvic pain, urinary frequency, burning and pain during sex can all be attributed to other conditions such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), endometriosis or interstitial cystitis. In fact, many women who have symptoms of IC go through years trying different treatments for these other conditions before finding out that they actually have interstitial cystitis.

Another reason why it’s so important to get tested for IC is because there are no effective treatments for the disease yet — but there are some promising new therapies currently being tested in clinical trials (see below). The sooner you know if you have the condition, the sooner you can start thinking about how best to manage your symptoms and quality of life.

How Do You Prepare for This Type of Test?

There are no specific preparations for an interstitial cystitis (IC) test. You may be asked not to drink anything after midnight the night before your test.

Many tests require you to urinate before the test begins. Your health care provider may ask you to collect your urine in a container so that it can be tested later. You may also be asked to take a sample of your urine at home and bring it with you for testing.

What Does It Mean If the IC Test Is Positive?

If you have a positive test, it means that you have Interstitial Cystitis. This is not a diagnosis, but a sign that further testing is needed to confirm the diagnosis. The two most common tests are the bladder reflex test and urinary cytology (smear).

What does it mean when my urine analysis comes back as positive for bacteria? Your urine culture may be positive for bacteria even if you do not have an infection in your bladder. Bacteria grow best under certain conditions so if your urine samples are collected at different times during your day or week, they may all come back as “positive”. In addition, some people’s bodies tend to develop colonies of bacteria in their bladders that are not harmful at all.

If you have interstitial cystitis, you may be wondering what to expect after a positive test and how the surgery will affect your life.

For some people, the diagnosis brings relief because they finally have an explanation for their symptoms. Others are disappointed that they do not have a more serious condition. Either way, once you have a firm diagnosis of interstitial cystitis, it’s time for treatment.

Treatment for Interstitial Cystitis

There are many treatment options for interstitial cystitis, including medications and other therapies such as bladder instillations and physical therapy. If surgery is necessary, there are several surgical procedures available that can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Treatment for IC includes medications, lifestyle changes and surgery. Surgery is only recommended for patients who don’t respond to other treatments or who have persistent symptoms despite treatment.

The goal of surgery is to reduce inflammation in the bladder so that it functions normally again. This can be done by removing damaged tissue from the bladder wall, which will help relieve pain and discomfort.


All in all, an IC test is a good first step to take if you’re experiencing some of the common symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis (i.e., pelvic pain). However, it’s worth noting that the various testing methods have flaws and are not 100% reliable. You may also find that your real relief comes from making dietary/lifestyle changes rather than finding a medication or getting a test performed. It should also be noted that there is no cure for interstitial cystitis, but there are treatment options that can help alleviate your symptoms and help you improve your quality of life.


1. IC Test – Is it painful?

No, the IC test is not painful. A small, flexible catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. The catheter is then used to measure the pressure within the bladder and to collect a small sample of urine.

2. What does a negative IC test mean?

A negative IC test means that the pressure within the bladder is normal and there is no evidence of inflammation or infection.

3. Is there any special preparation required?

No special preparation is required for the IC test. However, it is important to empty your bladder before the test so that the pressure measurements are accurate.

4. Do I need to follow up if my results are normal?

No, you do not need to follow up if your IC test results are normal. However, if you have any symptoms of IC, such as urinary frequency, urgency, or pain, you should see your doctor for further evaluation.

5. Who should get an interstitial cystitis (IC) test?

Anyone who has symptoms of IC, such as urinary frequency, urgency, or pain, should see their doctor for an evaluation. An IC test may be ordered to help confirm the diagnosis.

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