What is a cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is a medical procedure done to look inside the bladder using a cystoscope. A cystoscope is a long, thin tube with a camera and light. During a cystoscopy, a doctor inserts this tube through your urethra and into your bladder so they can see the inside of your bladder. Magnified images from the camera are shown on a screen where your doctor can see them.

Reasons for having a cystoscopy

Your doctor might recommend this test if you have urinary problems, such as a constant need to urinate or painful urination. Your doctor might also recommend the procedure to check reasons for:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • An overactive bladder
  • Pelvic pain

A cystoscopy can reveal several conditions like bladder tumors, stones or cancer. Your doctor can also use this medical procedure to diagnose:

  • Blockages
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Noncancerous growths
  • Problems with the ureters

A cystoscopy can also be used to treat some bladder conditions. Your doctor can pass tiny surgical equipment through the scope to remove small bladder tumors and stones or to take a sample of bladder tissue.

Other uses include:

  • Taking a urine sample to check for tumors or infection.
  • Inserting a small tube to help with urine flow.
  • Administering dye so kidney problems can be identified on an X-ray.

Preparing for a cystoscopy

Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics before and after the medical procedure if you have a UTI or a weak immune system. You may also need to give a urine sample before the test. If your doctor plans to give you general anesthesia, you’ll feel sleepy afterward. That means before the medical procedure, you’ll need to arrange a ride home. Plan to take time to rest at home after the procedure.

Inquire from your doctor if you can continue taking any regular medications. Some medications can cause excessive bleeding during the procedure.

Anesthesia during a cystoscopy

The medical procedure might be carried out in a hospital or doctor’s office. You will need some form of anesthesia, so discuss with your doctor about your options before the procedure. These include:

Local anesthesia: Outpatient medical procedures usually involve local anesthesia. This means you’ll be conscious. You can drink and eat normally on your appointment day and go home right after the procedure.

General anesthesia: General anesthesia means you’ll be unconscious during the cystoscopy. With general anesthesia, you may need to fast for some hours ahead of time.

Regional anesthesia: Regional anesthesia involves an injection in your back. This will make you numb you below the waist.

With either regional or general anesthesia, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few hours after the medical procedure.

The cystoscopy procedure

Before the cystoscopy, you need to go to the bathroom to empty your bladder. Then, you change into a hospital gown and lie down on your back on a treatment table. Your feet may be placed in stirrups. The nurse may provide you with antibiotics to help avert a bladder infection.

At this point, you’ll be given anesthesia. If you get general anesthesia, this will be all that you are conscious of until you wake up. If you get a local or regional anesthetic, you may also be given a sedative to relax you. Your urethra will be numbed with an anesthetic gel. You’ll still feel some sensations, but the gel makes the medical procedure less painful. The doctor will lubricate the scope with gel and carefully put it inside the urethra. This may burn a touch, and it may feel like urinating.

If the medical procedure is investigatory, your doctor will use a flexible scope. Biopsies or other surgical procedures need a slightly thicker, rigid scope. The bigger scope allows surgical tools to pass through it.

The doctor looks through a lens as the scope goes into your bladder. A sterile solution also flows in to flood your bladder. This makes it easier for your doctor to see what’s going on. The fluid might give you an uneasy feeling of needing to urinate.

With local anesthesia, your cystoscopy may take less than five minutes. If you’re sedated or given general anesthesia, the whole medical procedure may take 15 to 30 minutes.

Potential risks of a cystoscopy

It’s normal to have a burning sensation while urinating for two to three days after the medical procedure. You may need to urinate more frequently. Don’t try to hold it, as the blood in your bladder could clot and create a blockage.

Blood in the urine is also common after the surgical procedure, particularly if you had a biopsy. Taking lots of water helps ease the burning and bleeding.

Some people develop more serious complications like:

Swollen urethra (urethritis): This is the most common complication. It makes urination difficult. If you can’t urinate for more than eight hours after the medical procedure, contact your doctor.

Infection: In rare cases, germs enter your urinary tract and cause infection. Fever, smelling urine, nausea, and lower back pain are all signs of infection. You might need antibiotics.

Bleeding: Few people suffer from serious bleeding. Call your doctor if this happens.

Recovering after a cystoscopy

Give yourself time to rest. Take lots of fluids and stay close to the bathroom. Holding a damp, warm washcloth over your urethra can aid relieve any pain. If your doctor gives you permission, take pain medications.

If you were given general anesthesia, have someone stay with you after the medical procedure. You may feel drowsy or dizzy. Don’t take alcohol, drive or operate complex machinery throughout the day.

If you had a biopsy, you’ll need time to heal. Avoid heavy lifting for the next two weeks. Ask your doctor when it’s safe to have sexual intercourse.

DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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