A cystoscopy is a procedure where a thin, telescopic camera (cystoscope) is used to look inside the bladder.
The cystoscope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra (tube used to pass urine). This will allow your specialist to see inside the bladder. Some bladder problems can be treated at the same time by passing small surgical instruments down the cystoscope.
Types of cystoscopy:
Flexible cystoscopy - a flexible cystoscope is used. This is quite thin so you will be able to stay awake while the procedure is carried out. These are typically used if the procedure is just to look inside your bladder.
Rigid cystoscopy - the cystoscope used is slightly wider and does not bend while in use. This procedure is typically done under general anaesthetic. A rigid cystoscopy may be done to treat a problem in your bladder.
Risks of a Cystoscopy
A cystoscopy is a very safe procedure and serious complications are very rare. The main risks include:
Being unable to urinate - you may temporarily need a catheter after this procedure so you can empty your bladder
To take a biopsy (a sample of tissue used for testing in a laboratory). This can be used to check for issues such as bladder cancer.
To remove bladder stones, insert or remove a stent (tube used to treat blockages), and to inject medicine into the bladder.
Does a Cystoscopy hurt?
A cystoscopy is usually not painful, but can be slightly uncomfortable.
Local anaesthetic gel is used for a flexible cystoscopy to numb the urethra. This will reduce discomfort and pain when the cystoscope is used.
Rigid Cystoscopies will be done under general anaesthetic (where you are asleep). This will mean you will have no pain while the procedure is carried out.
You will likely have some discomfort while urinating following a cystoscopy. This should reduce after a few days.
You should recover quickly following a cystoscopy, being able to leave hospital the same day and return to normal activities.
You should be able to go back to work, exercise and have sex as soon as you feel comfortable and able. With a flexible cystoscopy this could be the same day, or a few days with a rigid cystoscopy.
It is normal to have some discomfort when urinating and some blood in your urine for a day or two. See your GP or specialist if this discomfort is severe or does not improve after a few days. You should also see them if you have a high temperature.
Cystoscopy - Specialists
Dr Pallavi Latthe
Consultant Gynaecologist and subspecialist Urogynaecologist
Dr Pallavi is an accredited subspecialist in urogynaecology and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.
She is the clinical lead for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology in the Trust.