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What is a Cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of your bladder and the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra). A hollow tube (cystoscope) equipped with a lens is inserted into your urethra and slowly advanced into your bladder.

Reasons for Having a Cystoscopy

Cystoscopy is used to diagnose, monitor and treat conditions affecting the bladder and urethra. Your doctor might recommend cystoscopy to:

  • Investigate certain symptoms. Those symptoms can include blood in the urine, incontinence, overactive bladder, and painful urination. Cystoscopy can also help determine the cause of frequent urinary tract infections. However, cystoscopy generally isn't done while you have an active urinary tract infection.
  • Diagnose bladder diseases and conditions. Examples include bladder cancer, bladder stones, and bladder inflammation (cystitis).
  • Treat bladder diseases and conditions. Special tools can be passed through the cystoscope to treat certain conditions. For example, very small bladder tumours might be removed during cystoscopy.
  • Diagnose an enlarged prostate. Cystoscopy can reveal a narrowing of the urethra where it passes through the prostate gland, indicating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

The Cystoscopy Procedure

Before the procedure

If you are having a cystoscopy procedure in a hospital, you may get a sedative to help you relax about an hour before the test. An intravenous (IV) needle may be placed in your arm to give you other medicines and fluids.

During the procedure

You will lie on your back on a table. You may have your knees bent, legs apart. Your feet or thighs may be placed in stirrups. Your genital area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Your lower torso and thighs are covered with sterile cloths.

This test requires anaesthesia in the form of:

  • Local. This anaesthetic is inserted in your urethra.
  • General anaesthetic. You are put to sleep either with medicine through an IV or with gases inhaled through a mask.

In certain cases sometimes both methods are used.

After the anaesthetic takes effect, the cystoscope, or scope, is inserted into your urethra and moved into your bladder. If your urethra has a spot that is too narrow, other smaller tools are inserted first. They will gradually make it large enough for the scope.

Next, the urologist puts either sterile water or salt water (saline) into your bladder to make it larger and to create a clear view. The doctor may also put in medicine to reduce chances of infection.

The urologist can also insert tiny tools through the scope to collect tissue samples for biopsy. The tissue samples are sent to the lab to be checked.

The cystoscope is usually in your bladder for only a few minutes. But if other x-ray tests or other procedures are done at the same time it might take a little longer.

Following the procedure

If a local anaesthetic is used, you may be able to get up right after the test. If a general anaesthetic is used, you will stay in the recovery room until you are awake. (This usually takes an hour or less.) You can eat and drink as soon as you are fully awake.

If you have a biopsy, you may have a small amount of blood in your urine for several days. You may also need a catheter. A catheter is a tube that drains urine from your bladder. Your urologist will take it out at your follow-up visit.

Getting your results

Your consultant may be able to talk to you about some of the results right after the test. The results of a biopsy usually take a week or two and your consultant will be in contact with your GP with these results.

Scheduling a Cystoscopy Procedure at UPMC

A GP referral is required in order to see one of our urology consultants. You can access urology experts at the following UPMC locations: