What is a Cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy, or cystourethroscopy, is an endoscopic procedure where a tube inserted into the urethra through the opening at the end of the penis. It allows the doctor to visually examine the complete length of the urethra and the bladder for polyps, strictures, abnormal growths and other problems.

Why is the test is performed?

  • To diagnose and evaluate disorders of the urinary tract
  • To identify cancers of the bladder or urethra
  • To determine the cause of pain in the urinary tract

How does the test work?

There are two types of cystoscopes:

  • Standard rigid cystoscope
  • Flexible cystoscope.

In both methods, the actual test is carried out very similarly, with the exception of the positioning. With standard rigid cystoscope, you lie on your back with your knees up and apart. The urethra is cleaned and a local anesthetic is applied. The scope is then inserted through the urethra into the bladder. The flexible cystoscope does not require you to lie on your back with your knees up and apart for insertion. The choice of which scope to use depends on the purpose of the exam.

During the procedure, water is inserted through the cystoscope and into your bladder. Your healthcare provider will ask you a series of questions regarding how the you feel during when your bladder is filled. When the bladder is full of water, it stretches. This allows your physician to view the entire bladder wall.

If any tissue appears abnormal, a biopsy [tissue sample] can be taken through the cystoscope to be analyzed.

The entire procedure generally takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Does the test hurt?

You may feel discomfort as the cystoscope is placed into the urethra into the bladder. You will probably feel a strong need to urinate when the water fills the bladder. If a biopsy is taken you may feel a slight pinch.

After the procedure, the urethra may be sore and you will feel a burning sensation during urination for a day or two.

What are the risks of cystoscopy?

  • Infection
  • Bleeding from biopsy area [slight risk]
  • Rupturing of the bladder wall [slight risk]

When to call the doctor?

Contact the urologist if you experience:

  • Severe pain at the insertion site
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • A reduction in urine flow
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