A cystoscopy is a type of procedure that is performed when a doctor needs to get a look inside the urethra and bladder.

A cystoscopy involves using a cystoscope, which is a type of hollow tube instrument, and inserting it into the urethra. It is then advanced into the bladder. It has a lens that allows the doctor to visualize the urethra and bladder on a screen.

  • Cystoscopy can provide doctors with a wealth of information concerning a patient’s urethra and bladder.
  • There are different options for having a cystoscopy that doctors will discuss with patients to ensure they get the best results.

Why It’s Done

This procedure might be performed to diagnose, treat or monitor certain conditions of the urethra and bladder. Common reasons a cystoscopy is recommended include:

  • To look for an underlying cause of certain symptoms, such as blood in the urine, painful urination, overactive bladder, and incontinence.
  • To treat certain diseases, such as small bladder tumors.
  • To diagnosed certain conditions, such as bladder cancer, inflammation, or stones.


A few days before the procedure, patients might be administered antibiotics. These should be taken exactly as directed. Patients may also be instructed to wait to empty their bladder until they arrive at the hospital the day of the cystoscopy. This is because it helps to make it easier for patients to provide a pre-procedure urine test. Your doctor will provide specific instructions.


In general, it takes 15 to 30 minutes to perform this procedure. Patients will begin by emptying their bladder. The doctor will then administer a sedative if the patient will remain awake, or anesthesia if they will be asleep during the procedure.

Once the patient is sedated or anesthetized, the doctor will apply a numbing jelly to the urethra to further provide comfort. The cystoscope is then inserted. It is carefully guided into the urethra where the doctor observes the patient’s anatomy. From there, it is passed into the bladder if needed. If the bladder is being visualized, a sterile solution might be put into in order to inflate it and provide better visuals. In some cases, a tissue sample is taken.

Possible Risks

Like all procedures, there are some risks that patients should know about. Pain is possible in the abdomen, as well as burning with urination. These are typically mild and dissipate with time. Having some blood in the urine temporarily following the procedure is possible. However, it is rare for the bleeding to be significant. While rare, infection is also possible. To reduce the risk of infection, doctors might prescribe a short course of antibiotics to patients prior to and after the procedure.