A cystoscopy is a procedure that utilizes a cystoscope, a specific endoscope to examine the urethra and the lining of the bladder in order to diagnose, monitor, and treat diseases or abnormalities of the urethra and/or the bladder.

The cystoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light source and camera at its tip, small surgical instruments can be passed through a canal for treatment or collect biopsies.

Procedure Indications

The doctor will recommend a cystoscopy for those experiencing abnormal symptoms of the lower urinary tract. The procedure can assist with the following:

  • Determine the cause of abnormalities such as blood in the urine, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pain during urination. The procedure can also help in determining the cause of frequent infections of the urinary system.
  • The detection and diagnosis of bladder cancer; an examination is used to determine the location, size, number and shape of tumors, and to perform a biopsy for pathological examination in order to determine whether or not the cells are cancerous, as well as what type of cancer and how aggressive it is, if cancer is found.
  • The diagnosis of other diseases and conditions associated with the bladder and the urethra, such as bladder stones, cystitis, or urinary fistulas, or the assessment of injury to the bladder or urethra.
  • The treatment of small tumors in the bladder — whereby the doctor will pass special instruments through the cystoscope in order to remove the tumors.
  • The diagnosis of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or urethral stricture. A cystoscopy can help the doctor view the narrowing of the urethra as a result of an enlarged prostate or fibrosis.
The patient may be prescribed antibiotics in order to reduce the risk of any infection from the procedure. There will also be a urine test, and the patient will need to empty their bladder completely before the cystoscopy. From there, the doctor will administer a general anesthetic or apply a local anesthetic to the urethral area, depending on the type of cystoscope used as well as the purpose of the procedure.

The doctor cautiously advances the cystoscope through the urethra into the bladder examining the inner surfaces of the urethra and bladder.

The bladder will be filled with a saline or sterile solution in order to inflate the bladder and allow the doctor to see clearly. As the bladder fills, the patient may feel the need to urinate, but must wait until the examination is complete. The procedure should take about 10-15 minutes.

During the cystoscopy, your doctor may take tissue samples for lab testing, or perform other additional procedures as well.

A cystoscopy is known to pose few risks or complications, although, in certain cases, potential risks or complications may include the following:

  • Infection, although extremely rare. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics before and after the procedure in order to prevent and reduce any risk of infection.
  • A burning sensation while urinating or blood in the urine may occur during the 1-2 days after a cystoscopy, which will gradually disappear on its own.
  • There may be some pain in the abdomen for 1-2 days after a cystoscopy.

If a patient is still experiencing blood in their urine, bright red urine, increased abdominal pain, or fever and chills 2 days after a cystoscopy, they should see a doctor immediately.

After a cystoscopy, patients should be able to resume their normal daily activities. It’s necessary for patients to drink plenty of water in order to reduce irritation in the urethra.

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