Cystoscopy (sis-TOS-kuh-pee) is a procedure used to see inside your urinary bladder and urethra — the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. During a cystoscopy procedure, your doctor uses a hollow tube (cystoscope) equipped with a lens to carefully examine the lining of your bladder and your urethra. The cystoscope is inserted into your urethra and slowly advanced into your bladder.

Your doctor may perform the cystoscopy in a testing room, using a local anesthetic jelly to numb your urethra. Or your doctor may perform cystoscopy as an outpatient procedure, using sedation. Another option is to do the cystoscopy in the hospital while under general anesthesia. The type of cystoscopy you'll have depends on the reason for your procedure.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Doctors use cystoscopy to diagnose, monitor and treat conditions affecting the bladder and urethra. Common reasons your doctor may recommend a cystoscopy include:

  • Investigating causes of bladder signs and symptoms. Cystoscopy may help your doctor learn the causes of signs and symptoms such as blood in the urine, frequent urinary tract infections, incontinence, overactive bladder and painful urination.
  • Diagnosing bladder and urinary tract diseases and conditions. A cystoscopy may be used in diagnosing bladder cancer, bladder stones and bladder inflammation (cystitis).
  • Treating bladder diseases and conditions. Special tools can be passed through the cystoscope to treat a bladder disease or condition. For instance, very small bladder tumors may be removed during cystoscopy.
  • Diagnosing an enlarged prostate. A cystoscopy may reveal a narrowing of the urethra where it passes through the prostate gland, indicating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

In certain cases, your doctor may conduct a procedure called ureteroscopy (u-ree-tur-OS-kuh-pee) to examine your urinary tract beyond your bladder at the same time as your cystoscopy. Ureteroscopy uses a smaller scope to examine your ureters — the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder.

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