Cystoscopy is a procedure to see the inside of the bladder and urethra using a telescope.
Cystourethroscopy; Endoscopy of the bladder
How the test is performed
Cystoscopy is performed with a cystoscope -- a special tube with a small camera on the end (endoscope). There are two types of cystoscopes:
Standard, rigid cystoscope
The way the cystoscope is inserted varies, but the test is the same. Which cystoscope your health care provider uses depends on the purpose of the exam.
The procedure usually takes 5 - 20 minutes. The urethra is cleansed. A numbing medicine is applied to the skin lining the inside of the urethra, without using any needles. The scope is then inserted through the urethra into the bladder.
Water or salt water (saline) flows through the cystoscope to fill the bladder. As this occurs, you will be asked to describe the feeling. Your answer will reveal information about your condition.
As fluid fills the bladder, it stretches the bladder wall. This lets your health care provider see the entire bladder wall. You will feel the need to urinate when the bladder is full. However, the bladder must stay full until the exam is finished.
If any tissue looks abnormal, a small sample can be taken (biopsy) through the cystoscope and sent to a lab to be tested.
How to prepare for the test
Ask your health care provider if you should stop taking any medicines that could thin your blood.
If the procedure is performed in a hospital or surgery center, make arrangements for someone to take you home afterward.
How the test will feel
You may feel slight discomfort when the cystoscope is passed through the urethra into the bladder. You will feel an uncomfortable, strong need to urinate when your bladder is full.
You may feel a quick pinch if a biopsy is taken. After the cystoscope is removed, the urethra may be sore. You may have blood in the urine and a burning sensation during urination for a day or two.
Coburn M. Urologic surgery. In: Townsend CM Jr., Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 73.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.