A cystoscopy is where a doctor looks into the bladder with a special telescope called a cystoscope. The information given below is a general guide only. The arrangements, and the way tests are performed, may vary between different hospitals. Always follow the instructions given by your doctor.

A cystoscope is a thin telescope which is passed into the bladder via the urethra

There are two types:

  1. A flexible cystoscope is a thin, flexible, fibre-optic telescope. It is about as thick as a pencil.
  2. A rigid cystoscope is a thin, solid, straight telescope.

A doctor can look down the cystoscope, and also pictures can be displayed on a computer screen or monitor. the doctor may take a small sample (biopsy) from the lining of the bladder by using a thin 'grabbing' instrument which is passed down a side channel.

When is a cystoscopy done?

  1. To help with diagnosis
  2. A cystoscopy may be done to help to find the cause of symptoms such as:
  3. Frequent urinary tract infections.
  4. Blood in your urine
  5. Incontinence.
  6. Unusual cells found in a urine sample.
  7. Persistent pain when you pass urine.
  8. Difficulty in passing
  9. Cystoscopy may also be done to monitor progress of conditions. For example,
  10. In bladder tumour to detect any early recurrence
  11. To treat certain conditions or to do certain procedures
  12. By using various instruments which are passed down the side channels a doctor can:
  13. Remove a stone from the bladder or higher - in a ureter.
  14. Obtain a urine sample from each of the ureters.
  15. Remove small polyps or tumours from the lining of the bladder.
  16. Insert a stent (a small tube) into a narrowed ureter..
  17. Perform a special X-ray of the ureters and kidneys. A doctor can inject a dye into the ureters up towards the kidney. This shows up on X-ray pictures and helps to show problems of the kidney or ureter.
  18. Remove the prostate gland (by using a special type of cystoscope which 'chips' away at the prostate gland bit by bit).

What happens during a cystoscopy?

Cystoscopy is usually done as an outpatient or day case. It is usually done whilst you are awake. Some people are given a sedative to help them to relax.opening to your urethra (at the end of the penis or the outside of the vagina) and the nearby skin will be cleaned. Jelly withlocal anaestheticis then squirted into the opening of the urethra. This helps the cystoscope to pass into the urethra with as little discomfort as possible. The doctor will look carefully at the lining of the urethra and bladder. Sterile water is passed down a side channel in the cystoscope to fill your bladder slowly. As your bladder fills you will feel the urge to pass urine, which may be uncomfortable.

A cystoscopy takes about 5-10 minutes if it is just to look inside the bladder. It may last longer if the doctor does a procedure.

In some cases a general anaesthetic is given when a cystoscopy is done, particularly if a rigid cystoscope is used. In some cases a spinal anaesthetic is given which numbs all the lower half of the body.

Are there any side-effects or possible complications?

Most cystoscopies are done without any problem. For the next 24 hours you may have a mild burning feeling when you pass urine, and feel the need to go more often than usual. Also, the urine may look pink due to mild bleeding, particularly if a biopsy was taken. Occasionally, a urine infection develops shortly after a cystoscopy. This can cause a fever (high temperature) and pain when you pass urine. Rarely, the cystoscope may damage or perforate the bladder.

After you have had a cystoscopy, tell your doctor if:

  1. Pain or bleeding is severe.
  2. Any pain or bleeding lasts longer than two days.
  3. You develop symptoms of infection, such as a fever.

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