Thumbnail image of: Urinary System: Illustration


What is a cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is an exam of the inside of your urethra and bladder. A thin, flexible, lighted tube with a tiny camera is put through your urethra into your bladder. The urethra is the tube that drains urine from your bladder.

When is it used?

The procedure may be done to:

  • Examine the bladder lining, urethra, and for men, the prostate gland. Your provider may be able to see stones, tumors, redness and swelling, or signs of an infection.
  • Remove a sample of bladder tissue (biopsy) to check for cancer or other problems
  • Measure how much fluid your bladder can hold if you are having trouble urinating or holding your urine
  • Check for blockage or places where the urethra might be narrower than normal

Your healthcare provider may be able to treat some problems, such as a bladder stone or a narrow urethra, during the cystoscopy.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Plan for your care and a ride home after the procedure.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It’s best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any food or medicine allergies.
  • This procedure is usually done with a local anesthetic. If you are going to have general anesthesia, your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be given a local or general anesthetic before the procedure to keep you from feeling pain. Local anesthesia numbs part of your body where you will have the procedure. You may be given medicine to help you relax, but you may be awake during the procedure. General anesthesia relaxes your muscles and you will be asleep.

Your healthcare provider will insert the scope into your bladder through your urethra. Your provider will pass water through the tube and into your bladder to stretch the bladder and give a better view. Then your provider will examine your bladder and urethra. If you are a man, your prostate gland may also be examined.

The procedure usually takes 15 to 45 minutes to complete, but the scope is usually in the bladder for no more than 5 to 10 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

Usually you can go home after the procedure. If you had medicine to help you relax or general anesthetic, you may stay in a recovery area for a short while.

It’s normal to have the following symptoms for several days:

  • Frequent urination with some burning after urination
  • Urine that is red or pink in color with a few stringlike blood clots

Your provider may prescribe medicine for you to take after the procedure

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.
  • You may not be able to urinate. If you have a lot of discomfort, you may need to have your bladder drained with a catheter temporarily.
  • Other parts of your body may be injured during the surgery.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-18
Last reviewed: 2014-04-08
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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