How Do Bladder Scanners Work?

The urinary bladder is a muscular sac in the pelvis that is made of smooth muscle. Its main function is to store urine as it is capable of a tremendous amount of contraction and expansion until you release the urine when you go to the bathroom.

Basically, when the bladder fills with urine, sensory nerves send impulses to the brain indicating that the bladder is full. The sensory nerves connect with the other in the spinal cord to relay this information. In turn, the brain sends impulses back to the bladder instructing it to empty its contents.

The problem arises when post void residual remains in the bladder frequently as it leads to various types of urinary bladder illnesses, such as urosepsis, urethral stricture, urinary tract infections and bladder dysfunction which could potentially lead to excruciating pain and damage to the renal structures.

Immediate assistance of an expert must be sought in cases like this so that proper medical procedures may be conducted to assess the medical condition. More often than not, your doctor will resort utilise first a noninvasive procedure whereby a bladder scanner device is used to ascertain the status of your urinary bladder.

Bladder Scanner is a portable device that quickly, accurately, and noninvasively measure bladder volume to help assess the common urological problems. There are several bladder scanners now available in the market consists of a battery-operated LCD display console, an ultrasound probe that scans the patient’s bladder, and a pair of rechargeable batteries with a charger.

This powerful device is commonly used by medical experts in ascertaining residual urine left in the urinary bladder of the patient. Bladder scanner is dubbed as an innovative medical tool for providing noninvasive and cheaper procedure compared to catheterization or cystoscopy. In fact, it has superseded urethral catheterization as the latter medical procedure has been linked to unnecessary pain and potential risks.

Indeed, the benefits of bladder scanners cannot be overemphasised. Some of its other benefits include:

  • Bladder scanner can provide data about the prostate size, diverticula, stones and large tumours in the bladder.
  • Bladder scanners are useful in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of postoperative urinary retention or commonly known as POUR. It is likewise essential in avoiding catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
  • It is proven to be a powerful device in assisting in an accurate examination of a patient’s hydration status.
  • Bladder scanners are utilised to identify the main causes of bladder irritability, urinary frequency, and identify bladder distention. It is an effective tool in bladder training, too.

How Does a Bladder Scanner Work?

A bladder scan uses a noninvasive, portable ultrasound device which mainly uses high-frequency sound waves transmitted via a transducer that provides a virtual 3D image of the bladder and the volume of urine retained within the bladder. The retained urine or post-void residual is a reservoir for bacteria and pathogens which could lead to urinary tract infections that may cause pain, damage to the renal structures, and urosepsis.

Basically, the bladder scanner sends sound waves with a frequency above the limit of human hearing into the bladder area. This will produce 3D images which show the measurement of the post-void residual in the bladder that will be documented on a computer for examination and analysis of the physician afterwards. The images likewise display the internal soft tissues of the bladder and other related organs when necessary.

All bladder scanners have a transducer or probe and different types of transducers are available in the market? each piece determines the type of procedure your physician will conduct. The transducer or probe is the core part of the bladder scanner that mainly produces the sound waves that make the whole signal transmission possible. The piezoelectric crystal is the most important component of every probe because it generates and receives an ultrasound wave through the help of an electromagnetic current.

Most physicians utilised different approaches for diagnostic purposes and it varies on the organ that needs scanning. For instance, higher frequencies are applied for external organs such as bladders, breasts, and muscles while lower frequencies are used in examining deep structures like the kidney and the liver.

If your doctor advises you that you’re about to get this kind of procedure, there is no strict requirement such as fasting is needed before going through the actual medical procedure. The bladder scan is a simple procedure where your physician will ask you to lay on your back. The proper mode of the bladder scanner is then selected by your physician which solely depends on whether the patient is a woman, man, or a child.

A large amount of scanning gel will then be applied about an inch above your pubic bone and the probe will afterwards be pointed down between your pubic bone and navel. This is the part of the procedure where you will feel the vibration emitted by the transducer.

Once the procedure is done, an image of your bladder, as well as the amount of post-void residual, retained in the organ (if there’s any), and the signals which have been measured during the scanning will be displayed and logged on the computer. This 3D image will then be used by your doctor to determine the status of your bladder and if there’s an additional medical test that needs to be run.


The ultrasound bladder scanner is an innovative medical device that could protect patients from the pain, discomfort and urethral injury which might have been caused by bladder catheterization, thus reducing the burden of health care costs to the patient. Several medical suppliers, such as Emech Medical Australia, provide quality bladder scanner that helps medical experts gather accurate data of the patient’s bladder status.


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