An Overview of Cystoscopy

Cystoscopy is a procedure to inspect the bladder and urethra using a small instrument called a cystoscope — a long thin tube with light and camera attached to the end. It should not be confused with a cystectomy, which is a surgical procedure to remove part of or the entire bladder.

The bladder is a muscular sac in the pelvis, about the size of a pear when empty with a capacity somewhere between 400 and 600ml when full. It receives urine from the kidneys and stores it for excretion via the urethra.

You may be required to have a cystoscopy for a number of reasons, usually to inspect and diagnose issues with the bladder or urethra, including blood in the urine, frequent UTIs (urinary tract infection), pain in the pelvis or the constant need to urinate.

A cystoscopy may be required to diagnose a number of urological issues too: bladder tumors, stones, bladder cancer, growths, blockages, enlarged prostate glands and issues with the ureters.

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Procedure

Cystoscopy is often performed with the patient under general anaesthesia. If not, local anaesthetic will be administered.

First, the cystoscope is inserted into the urethra. Here you may feel a slight burning or the sudden sensation that you are urinating.

Depending on the nature of the surgery different instruments may be used. For a simple examination, a thin flexible cystoscope will be used to get a clear visual of the bladder and urethra.

If a biopsy is required (for example, if the procedure is to diagnose cancer), a larger instrument will be used, which will allow a smaller instrument to pass through to take a tissue sample.

Depending on the anaesthesia administered, the procedure take anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes in total.

Recovery

A cystoscopy is a relatively minor procedure and it should only take a few days for you to fully recover. If a biopsy was required then it may take a little longer (up to two weeks).

It is important to rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may experience a burning sensation when passing urine. Blood in the urine is also common, however this should only last a few days.

Risks and Side Effects

As with any medical procedure there are some minors risks including bleeding and infection of the surgical site (UTI).

Possible side effects include swelling of the urethra (urethritis), which is common. This will make it hard to urinate, However, should only last up to eight hours.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids to help the blood in your bladder pass. This reduces the risk of clots developing and causing a blockage.

Read more on Urology Specialist.