Ultrasound Bladder Scan

Ultrasound Bladder Scan

An ultrasound scan is a safe, non-invasive and painless ultrasound scan of the patient’s abdomen to examine their urinary system, including the bladder, kidneys, ureter and urethra. A bladder scan examines the bladder. 

High-frequency sound waves are used to produce structural images of the bladder, to help your urologist better understand your condition, from voiding problems to urinary tract infections. 

This diagnostic test can determine:

  • Signs of bladder cancer
  • Structural abnormalities in the bladder, such as size and thickness
  • How much urine the bladder can hold when it is full
  • How effective the bladder is at emptying

Why would I need a bladder scan?

Generally, your urologist would recommend a bladder scan if you show symptoms of voiding issues. Other symptoms include: 

  • Slow urination
  • Urinary frequency, urgency or intermittency
  • The feeling of incomplete voiding
  • Microscopic or gross hematuria
  • Painful urination or obstructed voiding

 

Other than identifying structural abnormalities in the bladder, a bladder scan is also an effective way of seeing if your bladder is working correctly. Hence, the first round of the scan will be done while your bladder is completely full, while the next round is carried out while it is empty. 

How do I prepare for a bladder scan?

Try to drink liquids at least 2 hours before your bladder scan until it feels comfortably full. Avoid urinating before your scan. 

No fasting or bowel preparation is required. 

What can I expect during a bladder scan?

An ultrasound bladder scan is painless and takes about 5 minutes to complete.

  1. You will be asked to lie down comfortably and expose your tummy, where a water-based gel will be applied.
  2. The sonographer or urologist will gently move a handheld probe across the surface of your abdomen to obtain images that will be visible on the monitor. You may feel slight pressure as this is done.
  3. At times, you may be asked to hold your breath or change position to get clearer images.
  4. You will be asked to empty your bladder completely and return to the examination room.
  5. The first two steps will be repeated.
  6. You will be given a paper towel to wipe the gel away and you may drink water and resume your daily activities afterwards.

Why do you need a full bladder for a bladder scan?

Having an empty bladder can affect the accuracy of your results because the liquid allows for a clearer image of your organs. This is because a bladder scan uses sound waves and the liquid enhances the movement of these waves through the abdominal cavity, leading to better visualisation.

How effective is a bladder ultrasound?

A bladder ultrasound can help assess the presence of and if any, the size of the bladder tumour. Although a bladder scan cannot tell us if a tumour is cancerous, the images taken can discern between tumours and other conditions e.g. enlarged prostate. It is also unable to detect tumours in the ureters. In these instances, your urologist will recommend other tests to confirm their diagnosis.

Summary

A bladder scan is a non-invasive yet effective way of examining the structure of the bladder and diagnosing voiding problems. If you experience symptoms like difficulty urinating, please consult your urologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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Dr. Fiona Wu 2

Dr Fiona Wu
Consultant Urologist

MBBS (S'pore), MRCS (Edin), MMED (Surg),
MMED (Clinical Investigation),
FRCS (Urol) (RCPSG), FAMS (Urology)

Dr Fiona Wu is an experienced Consultant Urologist and is the Medical Director of Aare Urocare.

Prior to her private practice, Dr Fiona Wu spent 15 years in public service. She was a Consultant in the Department of Urology at National University Hospital (NUH), Alexandra Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. She was also the Programme Director of Surgery-in-Training at NUH and a core faculty member of postgraduate junior doctors. 

Dr Wu’s clinical interests lie in Female Urology, Neuro-urology, Urinary Incontinence, Reconstructive Urology and Voiding Dysfunction. She believes in treating incontinence in a holistic way using minimally invasive methods. She worked closely with the gynaecology and colorectal departments to treat complex pelvic floor conditions and continues to do so in her own practice. 

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