What's a Cystoscopy?

May 4, 2017cystoscopy1

Got blood in your urine? Pain when you pee? These symptoms and others such as repeated urinary infections or problems passing urine may be reason for your doctor to refer you to a urologist and for a subsequent cystoscopy.

Roughly 11,000 Calgarians per year will undergo a cystoscopy. Broken down, the word “cystoscopy” means bladder (cysto) examination (scopy). In practice, a cystoscopy is a procedure where a urologist looks into the bladder and urethra with a small telescope to diagnose urological conditions or to treat scar tissue in the urethra, bladder tumours, inflammation, or enlarged prostate. A typical cystoscopy procedure takes only one minute to complete.

What You’ll Feel
You may be wondering how small is this telescope and how’s it getting into my bladder? There’s no cause for panic. Before the telescope, called a cystoscope, is inserted into your urethra, you’ll be provided with an anaesthetic to minimize discomfort. Most often, freezing jelly is used; however, in rare situations where patients are undergoing multiple procedures during the cystoscopy, sedation or a regional anaesthetic may be used. Your urologist will discuss this with you prior to your cystoscopy appointment.

As the freezing jelly is applied, patients describe feeling pressure and a strange, sometimes burning, sensation. As the scope passes into the bladder and the bladder is filled with sterile water, patients describe feeling increased pressure, a cooling sensation and a sense of fullness or a need to urinate. If the procedure is done with regional anaesthetic, patients feel nothing.

After the cystoscopy, you may feel the need to urinate. It’s also common to feel some burning with urination, to need to urinate frequently and to have blood in the urine. These symptoms are short-lived and should clear-up after you urinate a few times. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to relieve these symptoms more quickly.

Severe or prolonged bleeding, sudden chills or fever, severe or prolonged pain, cloudy or foul-smelling urine or significant problems urinating are not common symptoms and should be reported promptly to your doctor.
Minimal Risks
The risks of cystoscopy are minimal. They include the following:
  • Blood in the urine and mild burning during urination, usually subsiding within a couple of days
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Infection (less than 1% risk)
  • Scarring of the urethra (rare)
For more detailed information about cystoscopy, check out the following resources:

Cystoscopy information video (MD Conversation)
Canadian Urological Association
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