Urological procedure: bladder scope
Cystoscopy is a procedure to examine the inside of the bladder and other parts of the urinary system. This is done to help make a diagnosis, to take a sample (biopsy) for analysis or to carry out surgery. It uses a special instrument called a cystoscope, which is a hollow viewing tube that goes into your body. Small surgical instruments can also go through the middle of some types of cystoscope.
There are two types of cystoscope:
usually used to examine the inside of your urinary system, either to help make a diagnosis or to make sure that treatment has worked. A flexible cystoscope is a fibre-optic instrument which relays views of the inside of your body to a monitor (like a TV screen) that the doctor can look at;
often used to take samples or to carry out surgery by passing special instruments through a separate channel.
A cystoscopy to help with a diagnosis will usually be arranged by your GP.
Why Cystoscopy is necessary
Cystoscopy is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of a number of conditions that affect the urinary system, particularly the bladder, ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder) and the urethra (the tube which drains the bladder when you urinate).
These conditions include:
- Serious or repeated infections
- Polyps (non-cancerous growths)
- Cancerous growths (tumors) in the bladder
- Bladder stones
- Narrowing / blockage of the urethra (urethral stricture) or ureters
How the cystoscopy is performed
If you have cystoscopy, you will normally be seen during the day and will not have to stay in hospital over night. Sometimes, if the cystoscopy is to carry out surgery or to take a large sample of tissue, you may have to stay over night.
During the procedure, the cystoscope is pushed in through your urethra (urine tube) as gently as possible. You may have a local anesthetic, although sometimes no anesthetic is necessary. If surgery is planned or a large sample is to be taken, you may be given a general anesthetic, although this is avoided if at all possible.
In order to examine the bladder fully, the doctor may use the cystoscope to fill your bladder with a saline solution (sterile salt water). This opens out the bladder to give a better view and is clear enough to see through. However, it will also make your bladder feel full and you will feel the need to urinate.
Recovery after cystoscopy
You should recover quite quickly after cystoscopy. If you have not had a general anesthetic, you will normally be allowed to go home the same day. If you have had a general anesthetic, then you may need to stay in over night. If you have had surgery or a large tissue sample taken, then the stay may be a little longer.
It is not unusual to have some mild discomfort and a need to urinate more frequently for a day or so following the procedure. You may also pass a little blood in your urine (turning it slightly pink in color).
Occasionally, these symptoms may last a little longer, but it is a good idea to check with the hospital where the cystoscopy takes place whether there are any unusual symptoms to look out for, and who you should contact if you are worried.