Cystoscopy is a visual examination of the inside of the bladder and urinary tract, using a cystoscope (a thin tube with a tiny lens or camera on the end). It is often used to diagnose the cause of symptoms such as recurrent bladder infections, pain during urination or urinary incontinence. It is a common urinary test with relatively few side effects. The results can be very valuable in planning a course of treatment.

During the examination, the lens is inserted into the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the bladder) and slowly advanced into the bladder. The lens magnifies the inner lining of both the urethra and bladder, making it easier to see abnormalities such as cysts, polyps, bladder stones, enlarged prostate or inflammation. Some cystoscopes have an additional channel within the tube to insert other small instruments to collect a sample of tissue for biopsy or to remove small abnormalities.

The test is typically performed in a physician’s office using local anesthesia to numb the urethra, or it can be performed using regional or general anesthesia, in which case the test would be preformed in the hospital.

The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. The cystoscope is usually in your bladder for only 2 – 10 minutes of this time.

In some cases, your medical care provider may prescribe antibiotics to begin prior to the day of the procedure. A urine test may also be ordered before your cystoscopy on the day of your procedure, so it is best to wait to empty your bladder until you arrive for your appointment.

If you will be receiving a sedative or anesthesia, you may also be asked to avoid eating or drinking anything the day of your test. Please make arrangements for someone to take you home following your test and to stay with you or check on you throughout the day.

During Your Cystoscopy
When you arrive for your cystoscopy, you will be asked to empty your bladder. Then you will lie down on a table on your back. If you receive local anesthesia, a numbing jelly will be applied to the inside of your urethra. After a few moments, the scope is inserted through the urethra into your bladder. You may feel slight discomfort as it is inserted. A sterile saline solution will be added through the scope to make it easier to view the bladder wall. As the fluid fills the bladder, you may feel the need to urinate. During the cystoscopy, you may be asked to describe different feelings to help in the diagnostic process. If a biopsy is taken during the procedure, you may feel a slight pinch.

In some cases, you may receive a sedative prior to the procedure. This will help you feel relaxed during the procedure, but you will still be aware. If you receive a general anesthetic, you won’t be aware of anything during the procedure.

After Your Cystoscopy
Results from your cystoscopy, including any tissue samples collected during the procedure, will be available during your follow-up appointment with your provider.

Following the procedure, your urethra may be sore, you may need to urinate more frequently, you might see blood in the urine or experience a burning sensation during urination for a few days. If the bleeding continues or is bright red, or if you experience chills, fever higher than 100°F, pain or reduced urine output (no urine for eight hours), contact your medical provider.

To relieve initial discomfort, hold a warm, moist washcloth over the opening to your urethra for 20 minutes at a time. Drink 16 ounces of water each hour for the first two hours following your procedure to help flush out your bladder, then drink four to six glasses of water each day for the next few days.

Next Steps

  • If your doctor has ordered this test and you have additional questions or concerns, contact your physician’s office.
  • MyMichigan Health specializes in treating incontinence and other pelvic disorders. A nurse navigator is available to answer your questions or discuss options for testing and treatment.

Related Locations