Cystoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inside of your bladder and urethra. It’s done using a thin, lighted tube called a cystoscope.
The doctor inserts this tube into your urethra and on into the bladder. Your doctor can see areas of your bladder and urethra that usually don’t show up well on X-rays.
Your doctor can also insert tiny surgical tools through the tube to take samples of tissue (biopsy) or samples of urine.
Small bladder stones and some small growths can also be taken out this way. So the test may help keep you from having to go back for surgery.
Why It Is Done
Cystoscopy may be done to:
- Find the cause of many urinary system problems. Examples include blood in the urine, pain when you urinate, incontinence, frequent urinary tract infections, and blockages in the urinary tract.
- Remove tissue samples for testing (biopsy).
- Remove a foreign object.
- Insert a stent. This helps urine flow from the kidneys to the bladder.
- Treat certain problems. The test can be used to remove stones or growths, help stop bleeding in the bladder, or remove a blockage.
- Inject a dye that is used for a special type of X-ray of the ureter and kidney.
How It Feels
If you are put to sleep with a general anesthetic, you won’t feel anything during the test. After the anesthetic wears off, your muscles may feel tired and achy. The medicine gives some people an upset stomach.
If a local anesthetic is used, you may feel a burning sensation or an urge to urinate when the cystoscope tube is inserted and removed. When sterile water or saline is put in your bladder, you may feel a cool sensation, an uncomfortable fullness, and an urgent need to urinate. Try to relax during the test by taking slow, deep breaths. Also, if the test takes a long time, lying on the table can become tiring and uncomfortable.
If a spinal anesthetic is used, you may find it uncomfortable to lie curled up on your side while the anesthetic is injected. You will probably feel a brief sting when the medicine is injected. The day after the test, you may feel tired and have a slight backache.
Most people report that this test is not nearly as uncomfortable as they thought it would be.
Cystoscopy is generally a very safe test. General anesthesia has some risks. The test doesn’t affect sexual function.
The most common side effect is a short-term swelling of the urethra. This can make it hard to urinate. A catheter inserted in your bladder can help drain the urine until the swelling goes away. Bleeding sometimes occurs, but it usually stops on its own.