In this procedure, a thin, lighted tube called a cystoscope is used to examine the inner surface of the bladder for abnormalities. The cystoscope is gently inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. The procedure usually takes from 5 to 20 minutes.
In addition to giving doctors clear view of a visible bladder tumor, a cystoscopy also permits doctors to perform 2 other diagnostic tests that may be used for certain patients:
- The first is a “bladder wash,” where a salt solution is passed into the bladder through a catheter (tube) to loosen cells on the bladder’s inner lining. This solution is then removed and a sample taken to be examined under a microscope (cytology).
- The second is a biopsy, where a tool attached to the cystoscope is used to remove abnormal tissue found on the bladder lining. This tissue also will be examined in the laboratory to determine if the abnormal area is cancerous. Some bleeding may occur when the biopsy is taken, so the doctor may cauterize the lining to prevent further bleeding. Patients usually receive anesthesia, either local or general, when a biopsy is to be taken.
Preparing for a Cystosocpy
Your doctor will tell you whether you will receive general or local anesthesia. If the cystoscopy is to be performed under general anesthesia, you will be asked to not eat or drink for a specific amount of time before the procedure. If it will be done under local anesthesia, you can eat as you would normally.
Tell your doctor if you are taking:
- Any medicine to "thin the blood", such as Coumadin® or Heparin
- Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Plavix®
- Insulin or any diabetic medications you take by mouth
- Arthritis medications
- Heart and hypertension medicine
- Over-the-counter medications, herbal, or vitamin supplements
Check with your doctor to find out if you need to stop any of these medications prior to your procedure.
Your doctor may order certain blood or urine tests. If you suspect that you may have a urinary tract infection, please tell your doctor so that proper antibiotics can be prescribed before your surgery.
The Day of Your Exam
- In most cases, you will lie on your back with your knees raised and apart. The lower part of your body will be covered with a sterile drape.
- A nurse or technologist will clean the area around your urethral opening and apply a local anesthetic.
- The doctor will insert the tip of the cystoscope through your urethra and up into the bladder.
- A sterile liquid (water or saline) may be passed through the cystoscope to stretch your bladder and make it easier for the doctor to examine the bladder wall.
- A bladder wash or biopsy may be performed.
After Your Cystoscopy
If you received general anesthesia, you will need to rest for 24 hours following the procedure. During that time, do not drive or use any machinery. Your doctor will tell you about any physical limitations you may have.
You most likely will feel a burning sensation when you urinate, but this should go away quickly.
Call your doctor immediately if:
- You experience excessive bleeding
- You are unable to urinate
- You experience any signs of infection such as chills, fever, pain or swelling