Cystoscopy (Bladder Exam)

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 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. 

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 prescriptions your doctor provides.

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

Conditions We're Looking For

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

Possible Complications

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

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.