A cystoscopy is a procedure to examine the bladder with a lighted scope. The scope allows the doctor to look through the urethra and into the bladder. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
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Reasons for Procedure
Cystoscopy may be done to look for causes of:
- Repeated urinary tract infections
- Blood in the urine
- Urinary incontinence
- Frequent urination
- Dribbling after urination
- Pain during urination
- Difficulty urinating
It may also help to diagnose:
- Bladder stones
- Pouches on the bladder wall
- Ulcers on the bladder wall
- Narrowing of the urethra
- Enlargement of the prostate gland in men
Problems from the test are rare. However, all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Damage of the bladder wall with the cystoscope—rare
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Active infection
- Bleeding disorders
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
This procedure is usually done in your doctor's office.
Local anesthesia is will numb the area in and around the urethra. A sedative may also be given to help you relax.
Description of the Procedure
You will lie on an exam table. A cystoscope will be inserted through the urinary opening. The doctor will carefully pass the scope into the urethra and then to the bladder. The scope will drain urine out of the bladder. A sample will be kept for testing. Next, the bladder will be filled with sterile water or saline solution. This will allow a better view of the bladder walls. The bladder and urethra will be examined.
How Long Will It Take?
Up to 15 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
Local anesthesia will keep you free from pain. You may feel some discomfort when the bladder is filled during the exam. It can also create an urge to urinate.
There may be some burning or small amounts of blood when you urinate after the test. It should fade with each urination.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
- Frequency, urgency, burning, or pain when urinating
- You are unable to urinate or empty your bladder completely
- Blood in your urine after 24 hours
- Signs of infection; including fever and chills
- Pain in your abdomen, back, or side
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Cystoscopy. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/cystoscopy?article=77. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Cytoscopy & ureteroscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/cystoscopy. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 01/29/2021