Ask The Expert
May 27, 2011
Cystoscopy is a procedure in which a small fiberoptic telescope is passed into the urinary bladder through the urethra. The doctor uses the scope to look at the bladder lining.
Cystoscopy may be done to inspect the bladder in someone with persistent symptoms. For example, a person that has a constant feeling of a need to urinate or pain with urination but no evidence of a bladder infection. It is also done to evaluate someone with unexplained red blood cells on a urine test.
Cystoscopy can also be used to treat conditions or remove lesions such as polyps or stones from within the bladder. (Surgical instruments can be placed through the scope to do this work.)
You asked what to expect. That's hard to say. It depends on whether your procedure is for diagnosis or if surgical procedures are planned.
If the doctor plans to simply look into the bladder, the cystoscopy may be done in an outpatient setting. You will be in and out in the same day. You might receive an intravenous line so you can be given medicine to help you relax. A local anesthetic is applied directly to the urethra, usually as a topical jelly. The doctor then inserts the scope while filling the bladder with a sterile solution of water or saline. The fluid swells the bladder. This makes room for the doctor to look at all the surfaces inside. The procedure usually takes about 10 minutes.
Depending on the type of sedative used, the doctor may instruct you not to drive for the rest of the day. Otherwise, you should be able to return to work and resume your normal activities as soon as the sedative wears off.
If surgical procedures are needed during the cystoscopy, you will need general or spinal anesthesia. You will be given instructions about what you can eat or drink for several hours before the procedure. Some people need to use a bladder catheter for a time after the procedure. This is a tube that allows urine to get out of the bladder. Some people must be admitted to the hospital for nursing care.
Talk to your doctor so you know what to expect.