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What is Flexible Cystoscopy

A Cystoscopy is an examination of the inside of the bladder, using a very fine, flexible fibreoptic, telescopic tube (the flexible cystoscope). This is passed through the urethra (the channel to the bladder) into the bladder so that the consultant can see what the problem may be. The examination is performed under local anaesthetic; it is quick and relatively painless.

Some urine problems can be sorted out following tests of the urine, blood or with X-rays. However, often the only way a consultant can be sure of what the problem may be, is by looking inside the bladder, using a flexible cystoscope.

What can I expect?

In the examination room you will be made comfortable on a couch. Some anaesthetic jelly is squeezed gently into the urethra to numb it. The anaesthetic usually takes five minutes to take effect. The consultant will then clean your genital area and the surrounding areas of skin with a mild disinfectant; you are then covered with sterile sheets. The flexible cystoscope is then inserted into the urethra up into the bladder.

Men may be asked to try and pass urine when the cystoscope reaches the sphincter (below the prostate gland) - see the diagram. In trying to pass urine the sphincter naturally relaxes and the cystoscope can pass through more easily. Don’t worry, no urine will actually come out while the cystoscope is inside the urethra.

There may be momentary stinging as the sphincter opens. When the bladder is empty, there are folds in the lining. Once the cystoscope is inside the bladder, saline or salt water is run into the bladder through the cystoscope to stretch out these folds and fill the bladder. This way the whole of the lining can be seen.

Are there any risks?

There is a small risk of infection following your cystoscopy, which can be treated by your GP. If you get a pain, bleeding or burning whilst passing urine that lasts longer than a day or so contact your GP.

After the Test?

As a result at the end of the examination you may feel as if you need to pass water again. The nurse will stay with you through the examination, you may experience some discomfort, but this will not last long.

Following the procedure you will need to have passed urine before leaving the endoscopy centre. Some Light staining of the urine is common for at least 2-3 days. If bleeding persists or you pass clots – please contact the endoscopy centre. You may feel a burning sensation when passing urine for the first two days after the test. Pain can sometimes be relieved by having warm baths. Drinking adequate amounts of fluids can also prevent infection and help ease the discomfort. Some patients may be given a short course of antibiotic tablets on discharge.

Going Home?

When you leave the unit after the test you may be given a short course of antibiotics. You can return to your normal activities straight away. Some bleeding is not uncommon, especially if you have had a biopsy; this is nothing to worry about, it will stop within 24 hours.