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What Is a Bladder Ultrasound Test: Everything You Need to Know!

by David Smith

| Updated December 11, 2023 |
Are you or a loved one scheduled to undergo a bladder ultrasound test? If so, you may have questions about what exactly it is and why it is recommended for certain people.

Here’s what you need to know to better understand bladder ultrasound tests and their importance.

1.Bladder Ultrasound Test Explained

A bladder ultrasound test, also known as a bladder scan or urinary ultrasound, is a medical imaging procedure used to assess the bladder's size, shape, and function.

The tests are non-invasive and painless because they use high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to create real-time images of the bladder and the urine it contains. The other way to measure bladder volume is through a urinary catheterization. This procedure, in which a tube is inserted into the body and used to empty the bladder, is invasive, often painful, and carries the risk of infection.

2.How a Bladder Ultrasound Test Works:

The patient is usually asked to drink plenty of water before the test to ensure the bladder is adequately filled. A full bladder provides better visibility during the ultrasound.

When it comes time to perform the test, the patient may be asked to lie down on an examination table, exposing the lower abdomen. Sometimes, the test can also be performed while the patient is seated or in a comfortable position.

During the test itself, a gel is applied to the lower abdomen and then a handheld device called a transducer is used to emit high-frequency sound waves into the body. These waves bounce off the bladder and its contents, creating echoes that are converted into images on a computer screen.

The ultrasound images can be used to measure the volume of urine in the bladder. This information is helpful in diagnosing conditions such as urinary retention, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or other bladder-related problems.

After the procedure, the healthcare provider will interpret the images and may discuss the findings with the patient. Depending on the results, further diagnostic tests or treatments may be recommended.

3. Why Are Bladder Ultrasounds Conducted?

Bladder ultrasound is a valuable tool for assessing bladder health and diagnosing various urological conditions without the need for invasive procedures. It is commonly used in urology clinics, emergency departments, and other medical settings where bladder-related issues are a concern.

A bladder ultrasound test may be recommended by a healthcare provider in various situations to assess the bladder's condition and diagnose or monitor urinary tract issues. Here are some common scenarios in which a bladder ultrasound test may be needed:

Urinary Retention –If you have difficulty emptying your bladder completely, a bladder ultrasound can determine the amount of urine left in your bladder after urination. This can be essential in diagnosing conditions like urinary retention.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) –Bladder ultrasounds may be used to check for abnormalities in the bladder or kidneys if you have recurrent UTIs or persistent urinary symptoms.
Bladder Tumors –If there is a suspicion of bladder tumors or other abnormalities within the bladder, a bladder ultrasound can provide initial information and guide further diagnostic procedures.
Monitoring Bladder Function –In some cases, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as neurogenic bladder (bladder dysfunction caused by nerve damage) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), may require regular bladder ultrasounds to monitor bladder function and assess any changes or complications.
Postoperative Assessment –After certain surgical procedures involving the urinary tract or bladder, a bladder ultrasound may be performed to evaluate the surgical site and ensure proper healing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, bladder ultrasound tests are a painless and non-intrusive examination method. More importantly, they play a crucial role in uncovering the underlying reasons behind various prevalent bladder-related issues.

Typically, prevalent bladder issues encompass conditions such as incontinence, urine leakage, and discomfort during urination. If you encounter any of these symptoms, we strongly advise you to reach out to your healthcare provider and arrange a bladder ultrasound examination for a thorough diagnosis.

References

1.National Health Service, Urinary Catheter: Overview (online). Accessed 10/03/23.

2.American College of Emergency Physicians, POCUS for Bladder Assessment and Volume: Technique, Tips, and Role in System-Wide Use (online). Accessed 10/03/23.
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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