Cystoscopy, also known as a bladder scope or cystourethroscopy, is a medical test conducted to look inside the bladder using a cystoscope. Used to check for diseases of the bladder and urethra such as tumors, sites of bleeding, signs of infection, stones, urinary bladder cancers and causes of bladder outlet obstruction, a cystoscope is a tube-like instrument with lens, a camera and a small light on one end and an eyepiece on the other which is inserted into the urethra which lets the doctor examine the urethra as well as the lining of the bladder. Generally, a simple cystoscopy lasts for not more than fifteen minutes unless there are some procedures that are more complex and may take a little longer. In certain cases, the doctors also pass surgical instruments via this instrument to perform specific procedures.

Also Read: Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Who Needs A Cystoscopy?

The healthcare provider recommends a cystoscopy if the patient is experiencing the following problems:

  • Urinary retention such as bladder control issues when one is not able to empty the bladder
  • Urinary incontinence or not being able to control urine flow
  • Bladder stones
  • Hematuria or blood in urine
  • Frequent episodes of urinary tract infections
  • Abnormal growth of polyps and tumors
  • Painful urination, also called dysuria

Types Of Cystoscopies

Depending on the condition of the patient and severity of the symptoms, the doctor advises to go for one of the following types of cystoscopes.

Rigid: These cystoscopes don not bend. The urologist passes this instrument through the tube majorly to perform biopsies or remove tumors. This easily allows the passage of guidewires and ureteral catheter. The patient is put to sleep through anesthesia, or the lower body is numbed.

Flexible: Flexible cystoscopes allow a full overview of the bladder to look for abnormalities, such as a bladder stone. The urologist uses a bendable scope to examine the inside of the bladder and urethra thus making an accurate diagnosis.

Before And During The Cystoscopy

A person who is due to have a cystoscopy should have a detailed consultation with their urologist and he or she should also let the doctor know about any current medication such as anticoagulants, blood thinners  and immunosuppressive drugs if any such medicines are being taken. Bleeding disorders, allergies and current urinary tract infection should also be informed about.

If a female is pregnant or there is any chance of being so, it needs to be informed well in advance. At the start and before the procedure, the doctor applies an anesthetic gel around the urethra to reduce discomfort and then gently insert a cystoscope into the urethra. Then the bladder is filled with a saline solution which aids in making the walls of the bladder more visible. With the help of the camera on the cystoscope, the bladder is examined.  As the bladder is filled with the solution, the person may experience the urge to urinate. More often, a urine sample or a small tissue is also taken. Post thorough examination, the cystoscope is carefully removed. Burning sensation while urinating may be experienced for another two or three days. Sometimes a small amount of blood in the urine many also be present. In most cases, usual activities can be commenced immediately after the procedure.


Cystoscopy is a simple procedure and considered safe with not many side effects besides little discomfort in passing urine. Only in rare cases it can lead to the following:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Abnormal or excessive bleeding
  • An inability to urinate
  • Reaction to the local anesthetic
  • A break in the bladder wall
  • Formation of scar tissue in the urethra


A cystoscopy is small procedure that helps in diagnosing issues with a bladder or urethra of a person. The procedure involves inserting a thin, flexible tube-like tool into the urethra and into the bladder. The tip of this tool contains a tiny camera that allows the doctor to get a detailed view of the bladder. The procedure is relatively quick, and most people can return to their usual activities on the same day. A person can expect to experience some temporary discomfort following a cystoscopy, and they may see blood in their urine. If there is any discomfort or any accompanying problem that requires medical attention, the doctor should be informed at the earliest.