During a cystoscopy, a urinary tract specialist (urologist) uses a scope to view the inside of the bladder and urethra. Doctors use cystoscopy to diagnose and treat urinary tract problems. These problems include bladder cancer, bladder control issues, enlarged prostates and urinary tract infections.
Your healthcare provider may use a cystoscopy to view the inside of the bladder and urethra. The bladder stores urine until it flows out of the body through a tube called the urethra.
A urologist, or urinary tract specialist, performs a cystoscopy. For the procedure, your doctor uses a cystoscope, a pencil-sized lighted tube with a camera or viewing lens. A cystoscopy helps specialists diagnose, and sometimes treat, urinary tract problems.
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Your healthcare provider may recommend a cystoscopy if you experience:
Urologists use cystoscopies to diagnose and treat urinary tract problems. A cystoscopy can diagnose:
Treatments using cystoscopy
Your doctor may also use a cystoscope to:
There are two types of cystoscopes. Your healthcare provider will use the one that works best for your specific procedure.
Depending on the reason for the cystoscopy, you may have an outpatient procedure (go home the same day) or stay overnight in the hospital.
For most diagnostic procedures, your doctor uses a numbing gel so you don’t feel pain in your urethra. For a more invasive treatment cystoscopy, you may need sedation or general anesthesia. If you get sedation or general anesthesia, someone should drive you home after the procedure.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on what to do before the procedure. You may need to not eat or drink for several hours before getting anesthesia. Your preparation will depend on the anesthesia type and why you’re having the cystoscopy. Generally, you will:
A cystoscopy may feel uncomfortable, but anesthesia keeps you from feeling pain. A diagnostic cystoscopy usually only takes about five minutes, but may take a little longer. If you’re having a biopsy or treatment, the procedure may take longer.
During a cystoscopy, your doctor:
You may have belly pain, blood-tinged urine or pain when peeing for the first day or two after the procedure. You may also feel like you need to pee often and urgently. These problems should fade within 48 hours.
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. To ease side effects, you can:
A cystoscopy is a relatively low-risk procedure. Potential complications include:
If you had a biopsy, it may take up to two weeks for your doctor to get the results.
Most post-procedure problems like painful urination and blood-tinged urine clear up within 48 hours. You should call your healthcare provider if problems last longer or you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A cystoscopy can help you find out what’s causing certain urinary tract problems. Your doctor may also perform a cystoscopy to treat some urinary tract conditions. A cystoscopy can be uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be painful. If needed, you and your healthcare provider can discuss treatment options based on findings from the procedure.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/14/2021.
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