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30+ Bladder Scan Procedure

by David Smith

| Updated December 28, 2023 |
Doctors order a bladder scan when they need to examine the bladder for functional issues such as urinary retention or postvoid residual (PVR). However, a bladder ultrasound can also show structural and medical issues such as bladder pouches (diverticulum), bladder stones, or bladder tumors.

Medics or clinicians performing bladder scans must complete the procedure with precision to get accurate results.

That goes to say, they should know the step-by-step actions to take to ensure the ultrasound bladder image is an accurate reflection of the actual bladder situation.

Besides, while the bladder scan is a risk-free procedure, the scanning healthcare provider should ensure patient privacy and the right hygienic conditions.

With these ultrasound scanning requirements in mind, this post is a step-by-step procedure of how to perform a bladder scan.

30 Steps of Bladder Scan Procedure

  1. Perform the No.1 health and safety hand hygiene moment “before touching a patient” as outlined in WHO’s 5 moments of hand hygieneamong healthcare providers.
  2. Press the bladder scanner power button to turn it on so you won't keep the patient waiting when it’s time to perform the actual scanning.
  3. Set up the bladder scanner following the manufacturer's instructions in the user manual.
  4. Check the bladder scan request details to confirm the patient’s data and the requested ultrasound procedure.
  5. Examine the patient’s clinical history and current symptoms from existing records or ask for the info if the patient is new. Doing this should reveal the medical reason for the bladder scan.
  6. Share the reasons for the bladder scan and the details of the procedure with the patient. This should solicit verbal consent to proceed with the ultrasound scan. Discuss the need for an accompany during the procedure.
  7. Feed the necessary patient info into the scanner. Gender is crucial for accurate ultrasound scanner results. Consider that the gender of female patients who’ve had a hysterectomy should be fed in as male so the scanner does not factor in the uterus.  
  8. Confirm you have all the ultrasound material around the scanning area:
    • Adequate battery charge to last through the procedure (or a standby charging battery).
    • Sufficient ultrasound thermal paper for scan result printing.
    • Enough ultrasound transmission gel.
    • Functional scanner parts: a charging cable, a displaying scanner monitor, and a fault-free transducer (scanner head).
  9. Move the scanner next to the patient’s bed so that you are standing on the right side of the patient. Your right hand controls the probe head, while your left controls the scanner monitor.
  10. Perform the No. 2 health and safety hand hygiene moment “before carrying out the procedure.”
  11. Ask the patient to be comfortable, ready for the procedure. The patient should lie in a supine position (face up, head on a pillow, and neck in a natural position). Direct the patient to bend their knees if that helps relax the abdominal wall for easier scanning.
  12. Ensure the patient’s privacy by placing a cloth or towel over their pelvic area. You can ask a healthcare assistant or the patient to help fold back the cloth so the cover does not block the suprapubic area where the scanning will happen.
  13. Spread enough ultrasound transmission gel around the abdominal midline and approximately 3cm above the pubic bone.
  14. Hold the transducer over the patient’s abdomen and confirm that the human scanner icon faces the direction of the patient’s head.
  15. Lower the transducer and place it on the abdominal midline above the pubic bone. Tilt it slightly downward to get the pubic bone out of the way of the ultrasound waves.
  16. Initiate the scan by pressing the scan button on the ultrasound scanner head. Notice the beep sound when the bladder volume is displayed on the ultrasound processor screen.
    • Depending on the type and purpose of the test and how in-depth you want the scan results, you may need to tilt/fan the probe head to longitudinal and transverse scanning positions. Switching between scanner positions will give you a more accurate view of the bladder and the surrounding pelvic structures. It also facilitates a better focus on the targeted areas.
    • Note that, regardless of the scanning position, the ultrasound bladder image is more precise when centered on the fine lines crossing at right angles on the scanner screen.
  17. Keep the scanner head steady. Ensure you do not move or shake it during scanning.
  18. Repeat the scanning procedure 2 to 3 times for a more precise result.
  19. Once you are satisfied with the scan, push the button that stops the scanning and assess the ultrasound bladder image on the monitor.
  20. Consult with an expert if you notice any variations between the scan results and the symptoms that inform the need for the scan.
  21. If the expert confirms the results and there’s no reason to suspect an inaccurate scanning procedure, proceed to print the result.
  22. Press the power button to shut down the bladder scanner.
  23. Use a hand towel or tissue to wipe the ultrasound transmission gel from the patient’s abdomen and allow the patient to rise and dress up.
  24. Clean the scanner head of the transmission gel before placing it back in its place. Using tissues or wipes with 70% Isopropyl alcohol will disinfect the scanner head. Use the same to clean the scanner processor parts you touched during the procedure and the scanner trolley.
  25. Dispose of all the waste from the scanner procedure according to your healthcare facility’s guidelines.
  26. Observe the No. 3/4 health and safety hand hygiene moment “after patient body exposure”/“after touching the patient”
  27. Prepare the ultrasound scan results for inclusion in the patient’s clinical progress records. This may mean including the ultrasound procedure date, the patient’s name, and the medical record number.
  28. Perform the No.5 health and safety hand hygiene moment “after touching patient surroundings.”
  29. Deliver the bladder ultrasound results to the relevant doctor.
  30. As a precautionary measure, abide by any infection control and prevention or work health and safety measures laid out by your healthcare facility.

Summing It Up!

An accurate bladder scan result is key to prescribing proper medical procedures or treatment post-scan. However, producing a precise bladder scan result requires the scanning healthcare personnel to follow the recommended bladder scan procedure.

This 30-step bladder scan procedure is a reliable reference for any clinicians looking for a reliable guide on how to perform a bladder scan. Just remember to factor in any guidelines specific to your healthcare facility.
Article by
David Smith
David is a urologist with over 9 years of experience. He is also the Co-fonder of BladGo, where he regularly shares his expertise in the field of urology. David is committed to keeping readers up-to-date on the latest urological research and to sharing other beneficial healthcare tips and information so that they can live healthier lives.

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