This office test allows your doctor to examine the lining of your bladder and the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra). You'll be given a numbing medication to make you more comfortable during the exam. To perform the exam, your doctor inserts a hollow tube (cystoscope) equipped with a lens into your urethra and slowly advances the tube into your bladder. Cystoscopy can reveal a narrowing of the urethra where it passes through the prostate gland, indicating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is important that patients pay attention to how much discomfort they experience during cystoscopy. Those who tolerate the procedure well are much more likely to tolerate other office BPH treatment approaches.
Why it's done
Cystoscopy is used to diagnose, monitor and treat conditions affecting the bladder and urethra. Your doctor might recommend cystoscopy to:
Investigate causes of signs and symptoms. Those signs and symptoms can include blood in the urine, incontinence, overactive bladder and painful urination. Cystoscopy can also help determine the cause of frequent urinary tract infections. However, cystoscopy generally isn't done while you have an active urinary tract infection.
Diagnose bladder diseases and conditions. Examples include bladder cancer, bladder stones and bladder inflammation (cystitis).
Treat bladder diseases and conditions. Special tools can be passed through the cystoscope to treat certain conditions. For example, very small bladder tumors might be removed during cystoscopy.
Diagnose an enlarged prostate. Cystoscopy can reveal a narrowing of the urethra where it passes through the prostate gland, indicating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
Complications of cystoscopy can include:
Infection. Rarely, cystoscopy can introduce germs into your urinary tract, causing an infection. To prevent infection, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to take before and after your cystoscopy. Risk factors for developing a urinary tract infection after cystoscopy include advanced age, smoking and unusual anatomy in your urinary tract.
Bleeding. Cystoscopy might cause some blood in your urine. Serious bleeding occurs rarely.
Pain. You might experience abdominal pain and a burning sensation when urinating. These symptoms are generally mild and gradually decrease after the procedure.
Signs and symptoms of a serious complication
Call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience:
- An inability to urinate after cystoscopy
- Bright red blood or heavy blood clots in your urine
- Abdominal pain and nausea
- A fever higher than 101.4 F (38.5 C)
- Pain or burning during urination that lasts more than two days
After the procedure
You might be allowed to resume your daily routine. If you've had sedation or general anesthesia, you might be asked to remain in a recovery area to allow the effects of the medication to wear off before you leave.
You might experience side effects after cystoscopy, such as:
- Bleeding from your urethra, which can appear bright pink in your urine or on toilet tissue
- A burning sensation during urination
- More frequent urination for the next day or two
You can relieve some of the discomfort if you:
- Hold a warm, moist washcloth over the opening to your urethra to help relieve pain. Repeat as needed.
- Take a warm bath. However, your doctor might ask you to avoid baths. Ask your doctor if you have concerns.
- Drink water. Flushing out your bladder can reduce irritation. Try to drink 16 ounces (473 milliliters) of water each hour for the first two hours after your cystoscopy.
Call your doctor if you have concerns after your cystoscopy.
Your doctor might be able to discuss the results immediately after your procedure.
Or, your doctor might need to wait to discuss the results at a follow-up appointment. If your cystoscopy involved collecting a biopsy to test for bladder cancer, that sample will be sent to a lab. When the tests are complete, your doctor will let you know the results.