A bladder biopsy is a procedure to obtain a sample of your bladder tissue. It is usually done during a cystoscopy, a procedure that examines the bladder with a lighted scope. After the tissue is removed, it is examined under a microscope.
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Reasons for Procedure
Bladder biopsies are done to look for tumors when bladder cancer is suspected. Biopsies may also be done to further investigate abnormalities of the bladder wall such as:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Urinary tract infections
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain, bleeding, or dribbling during urination
- Frequent urination
- Problems with leaking urine
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do a physical exam, imaging tests, or blood tests.
Before your biopsy:
- Avoid eating or drinking for 8-12 hours
- Talk to your doctor if you take any medications, herbs, or supplements. You may need to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
- Arrange for a ride home and for someone to stay with you for the first night.
Local anesthesia is used to numb the area in and around the urethra. The urethra is a tube that allows urine to drain from the bladder to the outside of the body.
A sedative may be given to help you relax.
Description of Procedure
A small tool called a cystoscope will be inserted into the urethra and passed into the bladder. The bladder will be drained of urine. Next, the bladder will be filled with sterile water or saline solution to allow a better view of the bladder walls. Any suspicious tissue will be removed from the bladder wall for further testing.
How Long Will It Take?
Less than 30 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
You may feel some discomfort or urge to urinate when the bladder is filled during the biopsy. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
After the procedure, you may experience a burning sensation or see small amounts of blood when you urinate. This should go away within 48 hours.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Increasing frequency, urgency, burning, or pain during urination.
- You are unable to urinate or empty your bladder completely.
- Increased blood in your urine.
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills.
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Urological Association
Cystoscopy. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/cystoscopy?article=77&display=1. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/cystoscopy-ureteroscopy. Updated June 2015. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Q&A: What you should know before surgery. American Society of Anesthesiologists Lifeline to Modern Medicine website. Available at:http://www.lifelinetomodernmedicine.com/Anesthesia-Topics/QA-What-You-Should-Know-Before-Surgery.aspx. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Tests for bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html. Updated May 23, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014