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Women’s health—trial of void

This brochure will explain the importance of a trial of void and how it is done. If there is anything that you are not sure of after reading this please ask your nurse who will answer any questions that you may have.

Commonly used terms

Void—to pass urine.

Residual—amount of urine left in your bladder after voiding.

Why do I have a catheter?

A catheter is in place for several reasons:

  • there may be swelling preventing your bladder from working properly
  • it may be necessary to rest your bladder so healing can occur
  • your surgery prevents you from being able to get out of bed to pass urine.

What is a trial of void?

1When you have had surgery near your bladder it is important to monitor the way it is working after your catheter has been removed. Sometimes after passing urine, large amounts can still remain in your bladder. This is very common after such surgery and usually resolves in a very short time.

Each time you pass urine it is important for your nurse to measure the amount and then scan your bladder using an ultrasound device. This is called a trial of void and is done to ensure your bladder is emptying sufficiently.

What can you do to help your trial of void?

  • Ensure you drink adequate fluid. The normal amount most people should drink is one to two litres per day.
  • To measure your urine it is important to pass urine into a bed pan. Once you have passed urine notify your nurse so she can measure it and scan your bladder to check the amount of residual urine.
  • Notify the staff if you are having pain or difficulty passing urine.

What is a double and triple void?

If there is a large amount of urine left in your bladder after you have tried to pass urine once, you will be asked to pass urine again. This can be repeated two to three times.

What happens next?

2When it is confirmed that you are passing a reasonable amount of urine and there is a minimal amount remaining in your bladder we no longer need to monitor your bladder function.

If there are large volumes of urine left in your bladder, we will advise you on the most appropriate management, which may include:

  • continuing voiding, measuring and monitoring
  • re-insertion of a catheter for a period of time and repeating a trial-of-void at a later stage after the bladder has rested
  • learning how to empty your bladder yourself with a small catheter.

Often initial problems with bladder emptying improve quickly once your pain resolves and your bowel function returns to normal. If you have difficulty getting out of bed this also can impact on how well your bladder will function. Women who have large amounts of urine remaining in their bladder after they pass urine following surgery usually find their bladder returns to normal quite quickly. A small number of women may be discharged from hospital with an ongoing need for some form of assistance with bladder emptying such as a catheter but it is common for this to resolve by itself within one week.


  1. 3GMCT Urology Network—Nursing, Trial of Void—Hospital Guidelines, GMCT Urology Network—Nursing, Department of Health, New South Wales Government, December, 2008
  2. Franco AV et al. Evaluation of the Impact of the Transobturator Tape Procedure on Female voiding Function Sandra Wyhtock Post—Operative Retention, A presentation by Elder Care Program, Providence Health Care, Feb, 2006.
  3. Midwife and continence Advisor, Trial of void, Urogynaecology Pelvic Floor Service, The Royal Women’s Hospital, Victoria, Australia.
  4. Wheeler TL, Richter HE et al. Predictors of Success with Postoperative Voiding Trial After a Mid Urethral Sling Procedure. Journal of Urology, Feb, 2008; 2: 600-4.
  5. Newman DK, Using the bladder scan for bladder volume assessment. Lippincott’s Nursing Drug Guide. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raveni, 1997.
  6. Novi J et al. Timing of postoperative voiding trial after anti-incontinence procedures. Journal of Pelvic Medicine and Surgery 2004; 10: 37-8.
  7. King Edwards Memorial Hospital: Women’s & Children’s Health Services. Management of the bladder and urinary drainage apparatus. Clinical guidelines section A: Guidelines relevant to obstetrics & gynaecology. Perth 2005.

© 2014 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-430162
Last modified 08/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 19/1/2014
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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