Cystoscopy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, although sometimes it is done in a hospital.
A cystoscopy can detect whether a urethra has narrowed or whether it contains polyps or other growths.
Having a cystoscopy means that a tube with a camera attached is inserted into the urethra to allow a physician to examine the urethra and bladder. Cystoscopes come in different sizes according to the purpose of the procedure. The rigidity of the tube also varies depending on why the procedure is being performed.
A rigid cystoscope has the advantage of better imaging, but the disadvantage is that it can only be used when a patient is lying on their back. With a flexible cystourethroscope, the patient might be in different positions. The procedure is also quicker, more sterile and less uncomfortable for the patient. Its movable tip means the bladder may be more fully inspected.
Both men and women may be candidates for a cystoscopy for a number of reasons. Bladder cancer, cancer of the urethra, blood in the urine, urinary incontinence, and painful urination might all be reasons to get a cystoscopy. Removal of a foreign object from the urethra may require a cystoscopy. While a cystoscopy may be performed to investigate the cause of recurrent urinary tract infections, it cannot be done when a person has an active infection. Bladder stones and an enlarged prostate are other conditions that might be explored using a cystoscopy.
The entire process takes less than 30 minutes. Patients should empty their bladder before the procedure. They will then need to lie on a table. A sedative or anesthetic might be given and numbing gel may be applied to reduce discomfort. The cystoscope is then placed in the urethra to fill the bladder, allowing the physician a better view. With a full bladder, the patient might worry about loss of bladder control, but this can be controlled by the physician. In some cases, a physician might also do a biopsy. The patient might feel a mild pinch. The physician will then remove the cystoscope.
It is normal for the patient to need to urinate again immediately afterward because of the fluid in the bladder. There might be light bleeding, but this is not serious. It is also not uncommon to need to urinate more frequently for a few days after the procedure. Although it is rare, some patients may develop an infection after a cystoscopy. This can be treated with antibiotics.