How Do Bladder Scanners Work

What is a Bladder Scanner?

The urinary bladder is an amazing organ that is made of smooth muscle. It stores urine and is capable of a tremendous amount of expansion and contraction until urine is released when you go to the bathroom. When you urinate, there should be little or no urine left in your bladder. The amount that’s left in the bladder is termed the post void residual or PVR. When post void residual frequently occurs, immediate medical assistance is necessary to avoid problems such as an enlarged prostate, urosepsis, urethral stricture, urinary tract infections and bladder dysfunction that could lead to pain and potential damage of the renal structures. In selecting the proper procedure to be done in order to evaluate your conditions, the noninvasive manner should be first considered.

Bladder scanners are now commonly used by medical experts to utilize advanced technology for assessing residual urine. This is an innovative device that prevents an invasive and costly procedure such as catheterization or cystoscopy. The bladder scanner has superseded urethral catheterization as the latter procedure has been associated with unnecessary pain and potential risks. Other additional benefits of using a bladder scanner include:

  • Bladder scanners can help in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of postoperative urinary retention (POUR). It also assists in avoiding catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
  • Bladder ultrasound can also give data about the diverticula, prostate size, stones and large tumors in the bladder.
  • A bladder scanner is effective in assisting with an accurate valuation of a patient’s hydration status.
  • Bladder scanners can also be used to identify causes of urinary frequency, identify bladder distention, and bladder irritability. It is also a convenient tool to use in bladder training.

How does a Bladder Scanner Work?

A bladder scanner is a painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves transmitted via a transducer to make a virtual 3D image of your bladder and the amount of PVR retained in your bladder. The bladder scanner sends sound waves with a frequency above the limit of human hearing into the bladder area, which produces images which are measured and documented on a computer for examination and analysis. The images show the internal soft tissues of the bladder and other related organs when necessary.

For diagnostic purposes, a different approach is used depending on the organ that needs scanning. For example, higher frequencies are used for external organs such as bladders, breasts, and muscles while lower frequencies are used in examining deep structures like the kidney and the liver.

Different types of transducers are available in the market and each piece determines the type of procedure you will conduct. Basically, all bladder scanners have a transducer or probe. This is the core part of the device that mainly produces the sound waves that make the whole signal transmission viable. The important component of every probe is the piezoelectric crystal as it generates and receives an ultrasound wave through the use of electromagnetic current.

If you’re about to get this kind of procedure, no strict regimen like fasting is prescribed before the actual proceeding. The exam is executed as you lay on your back. The appropriate mode of the bladder scanner must be selected by the medical expert which depends on whether the patient is a man, a woman or a child.  Afterward, your nurse will apply a large amount of scanning gel about an inch above your pubic bone; and the transducer will be pointed down between your navel and pubic bone. In this part, you will feel the vibration emitted by the transducer. Once the whole procedure is completed, an image of your bladder, including the amount of PVR retained in it, if there’s any, and the images of the signals that have been measured during the procedure will be registered on the computer.

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