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A cystoscopy is a procedure that examines the bladder with a lighted scope. The scope allows your doctor to look through the urethra and into the bladder. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Cystoscopy may be done to investigate the following symptoms:

  • Repeated urinary tract infections
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Frequent urination
  • Dribbling after urination
  • Painful urination
  • Difficulty urinating

Some abnormalities can be diagnosed through cystoscopy, including:

  • Tumors
  • Bladder stones
  • Inflammation
  • Cysts
  • Pouches on the bladder wall
  • Ulcers on the bladder wall
  • Polyps
  • Narrowing of the urethra
  • Enlargement of the prostate gland in men

Description of the Procedure

Local anesthesia helps to prevent pain during the procedure. Your doctor inserts a cystoscope through your urinary opening into the urethra and the bladder. Your doctor drains your bladder and takes a sample for testing. Next, your doctor fills your bladder with sterile water or saline solution to allow a better view of the bladder walls. Your doctor then examines your bladder and urethra.

The procedure takes about 15 minutes. You may feel some discomfort or the urge to urinate when your doctor fills your bladder.

Post-procedure Care

After the procedure, you may experience a burning sensation or see small amounts of blood when you urinate. To help with your recovery at home:

  • Drink plenty of fluids for the first few hours after the procedure.
  • Take any your prescribes.

Possible Complications

Problems from this procedure are rare. Your doctor will review potential problems, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Rarely, accidental damage of the bladder wall with the cystoscope

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Active infection
  • Diabetes
  • Bleeding disorder


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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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