Scheduled for a cystoscopy? Here’s what you need to know
What is a cystoscopy?
A cystoscopy is a medical procedure that examines the lining of your urinary bladder and the urethra. The urinary bladder is an organ that stores the urine before it is emptied when you relieve yourself, a process doctors refer to as ‘voiding’. The urethra is the tube where the urine passes from the bladder and out of the body.
Cystoscopy is performed using a thin tube with a light source and camera at the end. This tube is inserted up to the bladder so that the doctor can visualise the inside of the bladder.
What does the urologist look for during a cystoscopy?
During a cystoscopy, the doctor looks out for any of the following:
- Abnormal masses or tissues
- Abnormal outpouching of the bladder or urethra
- Bladder stones
- Inflammation of the bladder or urethra
How is the procedure like and how can patients prepare?
There is no limitation to eating or drinking before the procedure. Just that you’ll have to empty your bladder before the procedure starts. You will then be asked to change into a hospital gown, and the procedure takes place with you lying down.
The doctor will first apply a local anaesthetic at the urethra. A thin tube will be inserted gently through the urethra up to the bladder. Saline will then be infused through the tube to stretch the bladder. This is done so that the doctor can visualise the bladder more clearly. After a few minutes, the tube will be removed.
You can also choose to do the procedure under sedation, if so, you would need to fast 2 – 4 hours before the procedure.
You can go home after the procedure. Hospital admission is not necessary for a cystoscopy.
Who should go for it?
Patients who experience the following are advised to undergo cystoscopy:
Is it painful?
The procedure is not painful. However, you may feel some discomfort or the urge to urinate while the procedure is ongoing.
What’s recovery like?
After the procedure, you may feel sore or have a burning sensation at the urethra for up to 48 hours. You may also find some blood mixed with your urine for up to 24 hours.
What are the risks?
Cystoscopy is generally considered safe. There is a small risk of developing infection of the urinary bladder, bleeding while urinating or a reaction to the anaesthetic used. To reduce your risk for complications, your doctor will advise you to drink plenty of fluids after the procedure.
Visit the A&E department immediately if any of the following symptoms show up after the procedure:
- Bloody urine lasting more than 48 hours
- Pain persisting for more than 48 hours
Article reviewed by Dr Shirley Bang, urologist at Parkway East Hospital
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