What happens when a cystoscopy is performed?


Cystoscopy is a diagnostic procedure using a cystoscope, which is an endoscope especially designed for urological use to examine the bladder, lower urinary tract, and prostate gland.  It can also be used to collect urine samples, perform biopsies, and remove small stones.  A cystoscopy is performed by urologists to examine the entire bladder lining and to take biopsies of any questionable areas.  This procedure is also known as cystourethroscopy and allows a urologist to examine the lining of yourbladder and urethra in detail. 

Being told you need a cystoscopy may invoke feelings of apprehension but understanding the procedure is the first step in alieving those fears.

Why would a person need a cystoscopy?

The purpose of a cystoscopy is to diagnosis, monitor and treat conditions affecting the bladder and urethra. Some of the common reasons for a person needing a cystoscopy include urinary problems such as needing to urinate frequently, painful urination, blood in the urine, frequent urinary tract infections, an overactive bladder, or pelvic pain.

This procedure is useful to the doctor as it can reveal several conditions that may be causing issues such as:

·      Bladder tumors

·      Bladder stones

·      Bladder cancer

·      Blockages

·      Enlarged prostate gland

·      Noncancerous growths

·      Problems with the ureters (tubes) connecting your kidneys to your bladder


Other uses of performing a cystoscopy include:

·      Treating underlying bladder conditions such as removing small bladder tumors or stones, or to take a sample of bladder tissue

·      Taking a urine sample to check for tumors or infection

·      Inserting a small tube to assist with urine flow

·      Injecting dye to identify kidney problems on an x-ray

How is a cystoscopy performed?

This procedure can be done on an outpatient basis.  Before it is performed, you will need to empty your bladder after which you will be placed on an exam table.  To reduce pain, a liquid or gel local anesthetic may be used on your urethra.

Once preparations are done for the procedure, a thin, lighted tube called a cystoscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder.  The doctor lubricates the scope with gel and carefully inserts it into the urethra.  There may be a feeling of burning or a feeling of urinating when this happens.  

The doctor will look at the bladder through the lens of the scope.  In order to have a clear view of the bladder it will be filled with water or saline infused through the cystoscope stretching the bladder wall. On average, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to perform a cystoscopy. 

Interpreting the results

If everything is normal, the bladder wall should appear smooth with no blockages and the bladder should be of normal size, shape, and position.  If any tissue appears abnormal, the cystoscope can be used to remove a small sample.

Results could be available immediately or it could take a few days.  If a biopsy is taken, it will be sent to a lab for review which could take a few days to several weeks.

Recovery after the procedure

Once the cystoscope is removed, the urethra may be sore along with a burning sensation when urinating or more frequent urination that may last up to 48 hours. There may also be some blood in the urine at first, but this should go away within 12 to 24 hours.  Emptying the bladder completely is important and drinking plenty of water is encouraged to ease any burning and bleeding that may be occurring.

Take time to rest and if a biopsy is done, it will take time to heal.  During this time, avoid heavy lifting and sexual intercourse until the doctor gives permission to do so.