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  • What is a cystoscopy?

    Flexible cystoscopy

    A cystoscope is a thin tube with a light and a camera at the end. During a cystoscopy or bladder scope procedure, the doctor inserts a cystoscope into the patient’s urethra. As this tube passes through the urethra and into the bladder, magnified images shall display on a screen. The doctor will then be able to check the complete length of the urethra and see the inside of the bladder.

    Cystoscopy can be classified into two types: flexible and rigid. For basic diagnostic procedures, your doctor may recommend a flexible cystoscopy. This type of cystoscopy allows the doctor to look into the bladder using a soft and flexible cystoscope. It is usually a day procedure performed under local anaesthetic. On the other hand, if your doctor needs to do diagnosis and treatment at the same time, you may need to undergo a rigid cystoscopy. The doctor will use a wider cystoscope that does not bend. Since the instrument to be used is not bendable, rigid cystoscopy can be uncomfortable and painful. Thus, your doctor may give you a spinal or general anaesthesia.

  • You are advised to undergo cystoscopy if you experience recurrent urinary tract infections, blood in the urine and have difficulty urinating.

    A cystoscopy can help to diagnose:

    • Bladder conditions
      The procedure can check out symptoms like blood in the urine, overactive bladder, urinary incontinence in children or adults (sudden loss of bladder control in children or adults), or pain in peeing, as it can find the cause of frequent urinary tract infections. A cystoscopy procedure can also diagnose bladder diseases like bladder cancer, bladder stones, and bladder inflammation (cystitis), and it can treat conditions by removing small tumours.
    • Prostate conditions
      A cystoscopy can reveal a narrowing of the urethra. As it passes through the prostate gland, it can indicate an enlarged prostate.
  • Preparing for a cystoscopy

    If you are scheduled for a cystoscopy, you can prepare for the procedure by doing the following:

    • You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. It depends on your doctor’s advice.
    • You must follow instructions on when to stop eating and drinking. If the doctor gave instructions to take medicines on the day of cystoscopy, you must take them with only a sip of water. It is because the bladder should be empty right before the procedure.
    • It is best to take a bath or shower before coming in for a cystoscopy. Applying lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish is prohibited.
    • You should take off all jewellery, piercings, and contact lenses before the procedure.

    During a cystoscopy

    During a cystoscopy, you will have to lie down on a table on your back with your feet in stirrups and your knees bent.

    Your doctor may provide anaesthesia through a vein in your arm so you won’t feel the pain of a cystoscopy. If you receive a sedative, you will feel sleepy and relaxed during the procedure, but you will still be aware of what’s going on. If so, you would need to fast 2 – 4 hours before the procedure. If you receive a general anaesthetic, you will be sleeping during the procedure.

    The doctor will insert the cystoscope as he applies a numbing jelly in your urethra to help prevent pain. After waiting a few minutes for the numbing to take effect, the doctor will carefully push the cystoscope into the urethra using the smallest scope possible. Larger scopes may be needed to take tissue samples or pass surgical tools into the bladder.

    The doctor will examine the inner surfaces of the urethra and bladder using the camera of the cystoscope, which will project on a video screen.

    The doctor will fill your bladder with a sterile solution, which will inflate the bladder and allow your doctor to get a better look inside. As the bladder fills, you may feel the need to urinate. You may have to hold your pee until the procedure is completed.

    The doctor may take tissue samples for lab testing or perform other procedures during a cystoscopy.

    After a cystoscopy

    After the procedure, you may be allowed to resume your daily routine. Yet, if you had sedation or general anaesthesia, the doctor may give you advice to remain in a recovery area to allow the effects of the medication to wear off before leaving.

    Pain or side effects of a cystoscopy

    After the procedure, you may experience the following:

    • Bleeding in the urethra, which can appear bright pink in the urine or on a toilet tissue
    • Burning sensation when urinating
    • More frequent urination for up to 48 hours

    Ways to relieve urinary discomfort

    • Holding a warm, moist washcloth over the opening to the urethra may help relieve pain. You may repeat as needed.
    • Take a warm bath. However, the doctor may ask you to avoid baths. It is better to clear this with your doctor first.
    • Try to drink plenty of fluids for the first 2 hours after the procedure. Flushing out the bladder can reduce irritation.


    You may ask your doctor about the results immediately after the procedure. However, there are circumstances when the doctor may need to wait for another appointment to discuss the results. One example of this is when the patient’s cystoscopy involved collecting a biopsy to test for bladder cancer. Nevertheless, your doctor will inform you of the results once the tests are complete.

    Risks/complications of a cystoscopy?

    • Infection – a cystoscopy can cause germs to enter the urinary tract, leading to an infection – though this happens rarely. To prevent infection, however, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to be taken before and after the procedure. Risk factors for developing a urinary tract infection after a cystoscopy include advanced age, smoking, and unusual anatomy in the patient’s urinary tract.
    • Bleeding – a cystoscopy may cause some blood in the urine.
    • Pain – you may experience abdominal pain and burning sensation when urinating. These symptoms are usually mild and slowly decrease after the procedure.
  • Parkway East Hospital provides comprehensive services for the diagnosis and management of a wide range of urological problems such as bladder diseases and conditions. One of the procedures to check the bladder is a cystoscopy. Our team of doctors and medical staff with years of experience in doing bladder scope procedure will ensure your safety and well-being. Our specialists are trained to carry out flexible cystoscopy and rigid cystoscopy. To complement their expertise, the medical team is equipped with technology and equipment for a cystoscopy.

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