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Cystoscopy involves placing a small telescope through the urethra and into the bladder. This allows your provider to visualize the entire urethra and bladder to discover if there are any abnormalities such stones, scar tissue or tumors. Cystoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that can be done with minimal irritation. Patients do not need to stop any medications prior to cystoscopy unless it is known that a biopsy is being done. If a biopsy is planned your provider may ask you to stop blood thinning medications.

For outpatient cystoscopic procedures done under local anesthesia there is no need to stop eating or drinking prior to the procedure.


Typically cystoscopy is done with a small telescope under local anesthesia (lidocaine in the urethra). You may receive a single dose of antibiotics prior to the procedure at the discretion of your provider. To prepare for the procedure the nurse will cleanse the area with an antiseptic soap and then insert the anesthetic jelly into the urethra. This is allowed to sit for a few minutes for the anesthetic to work. The provider will use a cystoscope to inspect the entire lower urinary tract. The scope is a is a thin, lighted tube that has a camera attached. Water or saline is infused through the cystoscope to aid in visualization. Generally the images can be seen on a video monitor for both the physician and the patient to see the inside of the urinary tract.

After the procedure patients can continue normal medications, continue a normal diet, participate in normal activities and resume sexual activity the next day.

Risks and possible complications

Cystoscopy is a relatively minor procedure with few risks. Typically it is done under local anesthetic and you might have some discomfort as the cystoscope is inserted or a feeling of bladder fullness when the scope is in the bladder. Occasionally after the procedure, there will be an increase in urinary frequency and some mild discomfort which typically resolves within a day.

Rarely cystoscopy, for diagnostic purposes, is done under general anesthesia. In these cases, there will no pain during the procedure, however the same frequency and mild burning will occur afterward. There are added risks of general anesthesia present such as the rare incidence of medication allergy, cardiac complications such as heart attack or pulmonary complications such as difficulty breathing.

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