A cystoscopy is a procedure that allows a urologist to view the inside of the bladder and the urethra. It is commonly recommended to evaluate urinary tract problems that cannot be identified through simpler testing such as urine analysis or IVP (Intravenous Pyelogram). More than just a test, the cystoscopy can be used to treat small bladder stones, tumors, bleeding and infection, eliminating the need for more invasive surgery. A cystoscopy can rule out many conditions, some of which are listed below:
- Inflammation of the urinary tract
- Abnormal tissue or cells
- Narrow areas (strictures)
- Structural abnormalities
- Enlarged prostate gland in men
- Genital prolapse in women
The urologist will give you special instructions regarding your preparation for the cystoscopy, such as eliminating daily anticoagulants (aspirin, Plavix, Motrin, etc) for a short time and possibly adding antibiotics in advance if you have a heart valve murmur. These details are handled best when the physician is informed of your complete medical history and daily routine. A urine sample may be requested before the procedure to rule out an existing infection, which would necessitate postponing the procedure. Since there is always a small risk of injury with any medical procedure, the patient will have to sign a consent form before it begins.
The cystoscope is a very narrow instrument with lenses, very much like a telescope or microscope. Usually the procedure is done under general or local anesthesia so that the patient is comfortable with the stirrup position, insertion of the cystoscope and the sterile liquid (water or saline) used to fill the bladder for optimal examination. After the cystoscope is inserted into the opening of the urethra, an extension can be used to see the ureters, which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The entire procedure can last from just a few minutes to possibly 20 minutes, depending on what needs to be accomplished.
After the test is finished, the patient may experience some mild burning with urination and even small amounts of blood in the urine. This would be considered normal in the first 24 hours. Drinking extra fluids will relieve those symptoms and help prevent urinary tract infection. If they continue longer or if there is severe bleeding or pain, the physician should be contacted. Antibiotics may be given as a preventative measure immediately following a cystoscopy for one or two days, but if signs of infection develop such as pain, chills or fever, the physician should be contacted as well.
Sometimes a diagnosis can be given immediately after the procedure, but more often a future appointment will be scheduled to discuss the results, especially if a biopsy was taken.