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Cystoscopy is an exam of the bladder using a special lighted scope.

Cystoscopy of the Bladder

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Parts of the Body Involved

  • Urinary opening
  • Urethra
  • Urinary bladder

Reasons for Procedure

Cystoscopy is performed to investigate the following symptoms:

The abnormalities that can be diagnosed through cystoscopy include:

  • Tumors
  • Bladder stones
  • Inflammation
  • Cysts
  • Outpouchings of the bladder wall (diverticula)
  • Open sores (ulcers)
  • Polyps
  • Narrowing of the urethra
  • Enlargement of the prostate gland

Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure

  • Active infection
  • Diabetes
  • Bleeding disorder

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The initial diagnosis is often done in the office under a local anesthetic.

You may be unable to tolerate an exam in the office or may need other procedures done. In this case, your doctor may decide to perform a cystoscopy under a general anesthetic.

  • You will need to arrange to have someone drive you home
  • Avoid drinking or eating after midnight the night before the procedure
  • If you have cardiac valve problems, your doctor may ask you to take antibiotics


  • Local if done in office
  • Local, general, or regional (spinal) if done in the operating room

Description of the Procedure

You will lie on an exam table. The doctor inserts the cystoscope through the urinary opening, into the urethra, and advances it into the bladder. The bladder is drained of urine. A sample is retained for testing.

The bladder is then filled with sterile water to allow a better view of the bladder walls. The bladder, urethra, and prostate gland (in male patients) are carefully examined.

After Procedure

The exam may indicate a problem that requires treatment. Your doctor will discuss this with you before you leave the office.

How Long Will It Take?

5-10 minutes

Will It Hurt?

  • General anesthesia or a spinal—you won't feel any pain during the procedure
  • Local anesthesia—you may feel some pain or discomfort when the cystoscope is being inserted and removed

For several days after the procedure you may feel some stinging or burning when urinating. You may see some blood in the urine for a few days. Your doctor may give you pain medication or antibiotics.

Possible Complications

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Accidental perforation of the bladder wall with the cystoscope (very rare)

Average Hospital Stay


Postoperative Care

  • You may be given antibiotics to prevent or treat urinary tract infection—take medications as prescribed
  • Follow your doctor's guidelines in regards to bathing, exercising, and resuming sexual relations


Your doctor may be able to find the cause of your symptoms.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

  • Inability to urinate, or feeling that you are not able to completely empty your bladder
  • Persistent blood in your urine following the procedure
  • Pain, burning, urgency, or frequency of urination
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Pain in your abdomen, side, or back after the procedure
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting


American Urologic Association

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse


Health Canada

Women's Health Matters


Campbell MF, Walsh PC. Campbell's Urology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company;1998.

Cystoscopy. American Urological Association website. Available at: Accessed July 22, 2008.

Last reviewed June 2008 by Adrienne Carmack, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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