What is a cystoscopy?
A doctor uses a cystoscopy to examine the inside of the bladder and urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body). A cystoscope, a narrow tube with a light and a lens or a small video camera on the end, is used for this. The tube is inserted into your urethra.
Cystoscopes are divided into two categories: flexible and rigid. The type of cystoscopy your doctor employs will be determined by the reason for the procedure.
Why do you need a cystoscopy?
There are a few reasons you might need a cystoscopy:
You are having bladder problems
This test can be used to determine the reason for bladder signs or symptoms (such as difficulty peeing or blood in the urine) or to investigate an abnormal area observed on an imaging test (such as a CT scan). It may also be used to look for new tumors if you have had bladder cancer.
You have a suspicious area that might be cancer
Biopsy samples from the bladder or urethra can be taken via a cystoscopy (to find out if an abnormal area is a cancer, for example). To collect the samples, long, thin devices such as little forceps (tweezers) are sent down the cystoscope. After that, the biopsy samples are examined in the lab.
You have a bladder problem that needs treating (including some early cancers)
Cystoscopy can be used to treat some problems in the bladder. For example, long, thin instruments can be passed down a rigid cystoscope to remove small tumors (growths) in the bladder, in an operation known as transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT)
What’s it like to have a cystoscopy?
Before, during, and after a cystoscopy, the following is a broad summary of what to expect. However, your experience may vary based on factors such as why you’re having the test, the type of cystoscope utilized, the location of the test, and your overall health. Before you have this test, talk to your health care physician to make sure you know what to anticipate and to ask questions if you have any concerns.
Before the test
Make sure your doctor is aware of any medications you’re taking, including vitamins, herbs, and supplements, as well as any drug allergies you may have (including any type of anesthesia).
Before the test, you may be advised to cease taking blood-thinning medications (including aspirin) or other medications for a few days. You may be requested not to eat or drink anything for many hours before the treatment, depending on the sort of anesthesia you’ll be receiving. You will be given precise instructions by your doctor or nurse. Make sure you’re following them and asking questions if you have any questions.
Depending on which type of anesthesia you get, you might need to arrange for a ride home after the test. You might need someone to help you get home if you are sleepy or dizzy, so many centers will not discharge people to go home in a cab or a ridesharing service. If transportation might be a problem, talk with your health care provider about the policy at your hospital or surgery center for using one of these services. There may be other resources available for getting home, depending on the situation.
Getting the test
Cystoscopy can usually be done as an outpatient procedure (where you don’t need to stay overnight in a hospital).
This exam will most likely require you to lie down on your back with your feet in stirrups. A numbing drug (typically in the form of a gel) will be applied to the opening of the urethra, as well as possibly inside the urethra. To assist you to relax throughout the exam, you may be given a sedative through an IV line. You may be put to sleep (under general anesthesia) for a rigid cystoscopy.
The cystoscope will then be inserted into your urethra and up into your bladder by the doctor. To inflate your bladder and make the inner lining easier to observe, sterile salt water is frequently administered through the cystoscope. If you’re awake, you might feel compelled to go to the bathroom during the test. If any abnormal areas are seen, they can be biopsied at this time.
Cystoscopy might only take about 10 to 20 minutes, but it might take longer, depending on what’s being done.
After the test
After the procedure, you will be watched closely for a while to make sure you don’t have any complications. If you were asleep (under general anesthesia) during the test, you might need to stay at the center for a few hours before you are able to go home, and you will need a ride home because of the medicines or anesthesia you received. Your doctor or nurse should give you specific instructions on what you can and can’t do in the hours after the test.
To assist flush out the bladder, you’ll probably be urged to consume plenty of fluids after the surgery. For a day or two after the test, you may notice blood in your urine or a burning feeling when peeing.
If biopsies were performed as part of the procedure, the results should be available in a few days, but some testing on the biopsy samples may take longer. To acquire your results, you’ll need to follow up with your doctor after the operation.
Possible complications of cystoscopy
Cystoscopy is usually safe, but there is a small risk of:
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Bladder infection
- Rupture of the bladder wall
Your doctor or nurse should give you specific instructions on when you might need to call the doctor’s office. Be sure you understand when you should call.