The Clinical Importance of Bladder Scanners in Urinary Retention

February 6, 2019
Clinical Importance of Bladder Scanners in Urinary Retention - Soma Technology, Inc.

The Clinical Importance of Bladder Scanners in Urinary Retention

Urinary retention is a disorder in which a person cannot fully empty their bladder. Someone who has urinary retention may be able to urinate, but not completely able to empty their bladder. This condition needs immediate medical attention and can be considered a symptom of a life-threatening condition. Bladder scanners are helpful tools by which medical professionals can evaluate the health of their patients, and help prevent unnecessary procedures. Before portable bladder scanners, physicians and clinicians had to resort to catheterization which was not always needed. Now with the frequent use of bladder scanners, nurses can help better determine the need for catheterization and cystoscopies.  Keep reading to learn more about the importance of releasing patients with empty bladders.

Symptoms of Urinary Retention

There are a few telltale signs that urinary retention may complicate a lifestyle, or be an indicator of declining health. The largest symptom is an inability to empty the bladder. The other large symptom is an inability to urinate. Common symptoms include frequent urination, abdominal discomfort, and pressure, a lessened urge to urinate, trouble detecting the need to urinate, frequently needing to urinate, weak dribble or stream of urine, and waking up to urinate a few times each night.

What Causes Urinary Retention?

The most common causes of urinary retention are obstructive and non-obstructive. There could be an obstruction of the urethra, nerve problems, medications, or even weakened bladder muscles that can cause urinary retention.

Obstruction of the urethra causes urinary retention by blocking the normal urine flow out of the body. Conditions that can cause the obstruction are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), urethral stricture, urinary tract stones, cystoceles, and certain tumors and cancers just to name a few.

Urinary retention can also result from problems with the nerves that control the bladder. Many events or conditions can interfere with nerve signals between the brain and the bladder. If nerves are damaged, the brain may not get the signal that the bladder is full. Some common causes of nerve problems include vaginal childbirth, brain or spinal cord injections, diabetes, stroke, or pelvic injury to name a few.

Complications of Urinary Retention

Normally, urine is a sterile fluid and the normal flow of urine prevents bacteria from infecting the urinary tract. With urinary retention, the abnormal urine flow gives bacteria, at the opening of the urethra, a chance to infect the urinary tract. This is when you can get a urinary tract infection (UTI). Bladder or kidney damage can also occur. If the bladder becomes stretched too far for long periods, the muscles can become permanently damaged and lose their ability to contract. In some cases, the retention can also cause urine to flow backward into the kidneys. The backward flow can cause damage or even scar the kidney.

Clinical Uses of Bladder Scanners

Bladder scanners are tools that help to monitor a patient’s urine levels within the bladder. A clinician will monitor fluid levels to see if any is being passed. If their bladder is empty, then the patient can be discharged. However if the urine is not completely passed, or lingering, then the patient can be kept longer for observation; or for diagnostic testing to rule out the other implications of diseases.

How Do Bladder Scanners Work?

Bladder scanners are ultrasounds with a probe attached. Ultrasounds work in that they send sound waves, and when those waves echo back, that creates an image. The white parts of an ultrasound show that there is either liquid, tissue, bone, cyst, or tumor within an image, and the black background is waves that do not bounce back like soft tissues. Bladder scanners provide a virtual 3D image of the bladder and the volume of urine retained within the bladder. Retained urine is a reservoir for bacteria and pathogens.

Bladder scanners are commonly utilized in acute care, long-term care, and rehabilitation environments, as well as in physicians’ offices. Without the use of a bladder scanner, urinary retention is assessed by performing an invasive “in and out” urinary catheterization, which could be an unnecessary invasive procedure if you don’t need one. Due to their nature of ultrasounds being noninvasive, this lessens the chance that there will be any risks involved or damage to tissues.

Requesting Bladder Scanners

Soma Technology, Inc. offers a wide range of bladder scanners which include the Verathon BladderScan BVI 3000, BVI 9400, BVI 9600, BladderScan Prime, and more! If you need a bladder scanner for your facility, Soma Technology has a qualified team of sales representatives, and service technicians that can help you with your purchase. Soma offers refurbished bladder scanners with the same service contract and warranty as the original manufacturer. Requesting a quote for a bladder scanner is easy with Soma Technology. Simply request a quote online with exactly what product you need, or call 1-800-GET-SOMA to be directed to a sales representative. Soma will supply a formal quote within 24 business hours after you submit the quote. If you do not know exactly what you need Soma’s sales representatives will help you narrow down which scanner fits your needs, including your budget!

Popular Bladder Scanners

Soma Technology prides itself on providing new, demo, and refurbished capital medical equipment from top manufacturers. We have many Verathon bladder scanners in stock. These bladder scanners, like all of our equipment, are technically and cosmetically refurbished back to the original manufacturer’s specifications. The Units and probes are tested, necessary parts are replaced if needed, and then the unit is calibrated to work like it did the way it left the original manufacturer. All of this refurbishment is conducted by certified and trained biomedical engineers right in our ISO-certified facility. If you have any questions regarding your equipment you can always reach out to your sales representative or call 1-800-GET-SOMA to be directed to the correct department. Listed below are some of the most popular bladder scanners.

Verathon BladderScan BVI 3000

Bladder Scanner

The Verathon BladderScan BVI 3000 is a B-mode ultrasonic instrument, portable and battery-operated, intended for the noninvasive measurement of urinary bladder volume. A mechanical sector scanning transducer provides cross-sectional images of the bladder from twelve scan planes. Based on these images, the BVI 3000 automatically calculates the estimated bladder volume in milliliters and displays it on a screen.

The Verathon BVI 3000 system consists of 4 main components: The Scanhead, Control Unit, Rechargeable Battery, and the Battery Charger.


The scan head transmits and receives ultrasonic waves, automatically moving its internal transducer 360º to scan twelve planes and produce a three-dimensional image of the urinary bladder. The scan head is connected to the control unit using a cable.

Control Unit

The control unit provides all operating controls for the scanning procedure using six soft keys. The measured bladder volume and a target-shaped aiming icon are displayed on the LCD screen, helping the operator to achieve accurate measurement results.

Batteries and Charger

The rechargeable battery for the Verathon BVI 3000 is a NiMH-type battery. The battery can be recharged using the supplied battery charger. The charger brings the battery to a full charge in 6 hours or less. The battery can be left in the charger for an extended period, there is no danger of overcharging this battery. The BladderScan BVI 3000 draws very little power when it is turned off; however, if you do not plan to use the unit for several weeks, you should remove the battery to prevent it from becoming discharged. A battery that is not in use should be stored in the charged so it remains fully charged.


Dimensions (Console)
  • Height: 2.75” (7 cm)
  • Width: 9” (23 cm)
  • Depth: 11.25” (32 cm)
  • Weight: >5 lbs (>2.7 kg)
Bladder Volume Range
  • 0 to 999 ml
  • The following accuracy specification assumes usage per instructions, scanning a Verathon Inc.
  • Tissue Equivalent Phantom: 0 to 699 ml ± 20%, ± 20 ml; 700 to 999 ml ± 25%, ± 25 ml
Scan Time
  • Less than 5 seconds

Verathon BladderScan BVI 9400

Bladder Scanner

The Verathon BladderScan BVI 9400, with NeuralHarmonics technology, is a portable ultrasound instrument that provides noninvasive measurement of urinary bladder volume. The unit consists of an ultrasound probe that scans the patient’s bladder and a compact, battery-operated console that provides measurement-related information. BladderScan instruments are quick, accurate, reliable, and easy to use. When the user presses the Scan button, within seconds the BVI 9400 measures ultrasonic reflections on multiple planes inside the body and produces a 3D image. Based on this image, the Verathon BVI 9400 calculates and displays the bladder volume.

The BladderScan BVI 9400 features patented NeuralHarmonics technology that sharpens accuracy and accelerates the speed of measurement. Volume measurements are more accurate than conventional 2D ultrasounds, as it’s based on a more complex, multifaceted image of the bladder. This technology, applying multispectral analysis to a robust data set, helps reduce the margin of error and minimize uncertainty in essential measurements of the bladder function.

The Verathon BladderScan BVI 9400 has two main components: the console and the probe. The console and the probe are linked by a detachable cable.


The probe transmits and receives ultrasonic waves, automatically moving its internal transducer 360º to scan twelve planes to produce a 3D image of the bladder. The probe is attached to a console by a cable, and it has 3 main features. The scan button takes a scan when pressed. The probe also has an aiming display. The aiming display has directional arrows to ensure the bladder is centered within the scanning cone. Also, onboard the probe is a microphone that records voice annotations.


The console provides all operating controls for the scanning process using 5 variable function buttons. The measured bladder volume and target-shaped aiming icons are displayed on the LCD screen. The console also provides controls for adjusting brightness and volume, turning the power on/off, interfacing with a ScanPoint host computer (optional), and adjusting user settings and preferences. The console houses the battery and the printer.

Battery, Charger, and Wireless Hub

The Verathon BladderScan BVI 9400 is powered by a lithium-ion battery. The battery charger provided with the BVI 9400 can charge two Li-Ion batteries while simultaneously functioning as the wireless hub linking the 9400 to the ScanPoint host computer. To provide wireless communication between the BVI 9400 and the ScanPoint host computer, the USB connector on the charger/wireless hub must be connected to the host computer.


  • Height: 3 – 10.5″ (7.62 – 26.67cm)
  • Width: 8.75″ (22.23cm)
  • Depth: 12.5″ (31.75cm)
  • Weight (With battery): 5.2 lbs (2.36kg)
  • Height: 3.99″ (10.13cm)
  • Width: 5.26″ (13.36cm)
  • Resolution: 640 x 480, 120 dpi
  • Bladder volume accuracy: ± 15%, ± 15 ml (on a Verathon tissue-equivalent phantom)
  • Bladder volume range: 0 – 999 ml (0-200ml in small child scan mode)
  • Battery type: Lithium Ion
  • Battery life: A fully charged battery can provide approximately 30 exams within 24 hours
  • Charging time: Charging time offline will take no more than six hours from an empty battery to a full charge
  • Rated Capacity: 5200 mAh
  • Normal Voltage: 10.89 V
  • Max Charging Voltage: 12.6 V
  • Max weight: 0.77 lbs (350 g)
  • Height: 0.91″ ( 2.3 cm)
  • Width: 3.11″ (7.9 cm)
  • Depth: 4.65″ (11.8 cm)

Bladder Scanner Spare Parts

Not only does Soma Technology technically and cosmetically refurbish bladder scanners, but Soma also carries a wide range of medical parts and accessories for these units too.

Verathon BladderScan BVI Paper Rolls

Are you looking for paper rolls? Click the links below!

Verathon BladderScan BVI 3000 Batteries

Soma Tech INtl can supply replacement Verathon BladderScan BVI 3000 batteries. These batteries are a NiMH rechargeable battery. If you need a new battery for your BVI 3000 bladder scanner give us a call!

Verathon BladderScan BVI 3000 0400-0039 Battery

Final Thoughts

Did you know how important bladder scanners are in the clinical setting? Not only do they help cut down costs for your medical facility but they also cut down hospital bills for the patient if the patient doesn’t end up needing an invasive catheterization procedure. Unnecessary catheterization has a risk for urinary tract infections. Not only that, but they are also expensive for the patient.

Did you also know that there are more benefits to using a bladder scanner as a diagnostic tool other than urinary retention? In acute care settings, bladder scanners can assist in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of postoperative urinary retention (POUR). Studies have also shown that bladder scanners are more effective than manual palpation in the assessment of postoperative bladder distention in the PACU. They have also been useful in determining an accurate assessment of a patient’s hydration status.

Have you ever used the BVI 3000 or BVI 9400 bladder scanners before? As a clinician, have you found that there have been benefits to discharging patients with empty bladders? Are there any risks associated with discharging patients who have full bladders? Comment on your experience below!

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