Also called cystourethroscopy or a bladder scope, a cystoscopy is a test to check the internal condition of your bladder and urethra.

It’s an outpatient procedure, which means a patient can get it at a clinic, a doctor’s office, or a hospital and go home the same day. This procedure allows your physician to examine and detect pathologies of the inner lining of your urethra (the tube that excretes urine out of your body) and bladder. 

Why it’s done?

Cystoscopy is a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure used to detect, monitor and treat bladder and urethral conditions. Your doctor might recommend this test to:

  • Investigate the underlying causes of signs and symptoms – Cystoscopy is commonly performed to rule out the cause of specific signs and symptoms. These may include blood in the urine, incontinence, painful urination, and overactive bladder. The test is also suitable to diagnose the cause of frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections).
  • Diagnose the conditions of the bladder – Examples include bladder inflammation (cystitis), bladder cancer, and bladder stones.
  • Treat bladder and urethral conditions – Special surgical tools can be passed through the external opening of the cystoscope to treat certain bladder and urethral conditions. For example, stones and small bladder tumours can be excised during cystoscopy.
  • Diagnose an enlarged prostate – Narrowing of the urethra can be revealed through cystoscopy. It usually becomes narrowed due to an enlarged prostate – thus helping to diagnose benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

At the same time, another procedure called ureteroscopy can be done by your doctor to examine and detect the pathologies of the ureters

How It’s Done?

Just before the procedure, you will be asked to empty your bladder. The nurse may give you IV antibiotics and painkillers to help reduce pain and prevent a bladder infection. You will be given general or local anaesthesia at this point. In case of local or regional anaesthetic, your urethra will be numbed using an anaesthetic gel or spray. You will still feel some pain sensations, but the anaesthetic agent makes the test less painful. The physician will lubricate the cystoscope with gel and slowly insert it into the urethra. 

The procedure is usually carried out either through a flexible or a rigid cystoscope.

  • Flexible cystoscope – Your doctor will use a flexible scope if the procedure is being done for an investigatory purpose. This procedure helps diagnose various diseases and conditions of the urethra and bladder.
  • Rigid cystoscope – Biopsies or surgical procedures to treat minor conditions require a slightly thicker, rigid cystoscope. It is a slightly bigger scope that allows different surgical instruments to pass through it and cut the diseased tissue.

Under local anaesthesia, your cystoscopy procedure may take less than ten minutes. If you are given general anaesthesia or sedated, the entire test may take 20 to 30 minutes.

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