What is a cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is a procedure done by a urologist, a doctor specializing in the urinary system. During a cystectomy, the urologist uses a scope to look at the inside of the bladder, where urine is stored, and in the urethra, the channel that urine flows through out of the bladder.

A cystoscopy may also be used to remove something that shouldn’t be there, such as a bladder stone, or to take a biopsy (a sample of tissue) from the bladder lining to analyze it in the lab for further information.

The procedure can also help with placing a catheter, which is a thin drainage tube for urine.

When is a cystoscopy needed?

The cystoscopy procedure is ordered by the urologist when more information is needed about what is happening inside the lower urinary tract. Most often it is used to check for any problems in the bladder and its lining. The procedure is also an important tool to identify what may be causing abnormal problems, such as:

  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Hematuria, or blood in the urine
  • Urinary frequency, or urinating more than 8 times a day
  • Urinary urgency, or the sudden, strong urge to urinate
  • Urinary retention, or when the bladder does not empty completely
  • Urinary incontinence, or urine leakage
  • Pain or burning before, during, or after urination
  • Trouble starting the flow of urine, completing urination, or both
  • Abnormal cells found in a urine sample

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/05/2017.


  • NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Cystoscopy and Ureteroscopy Accessed 6/29/2017.
  • Wuilleumier J, Point D, Fooks H, Zaslau JS. The History of Cystoscopy in Urology, Internet Journal of Urology. 14,1 (2015) ispub.com Accessed 6/29/2017.
  • Urology Care Foundation. What is Cystoscopy? Accessed 6/29/2017.

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