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What is a cystoscopy?

Cystoscopy - 460x261

A cystoscopy is a procedure to examine the inside of your urinary bladder and urethra. Your urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. Your doctor may recommend a cystoscopy to diagnose problems with your bladder or urethra, including bladder cancer, obstructions, and infections.

A cystoscopy is only one method used to diagnose diseases and conditions of the urinary bladder and urethra. Discuss all of your diagnostic options with your doctor to understand which options are best for you.  

Types of cystoscopy

A cystoscopy uses a cystoscope to see the inside of the bladder and urethra. A cystoscope is a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera at the tip. The types of cystoscopy include:

  • Flexible cystoscopy is the most common type of cystoscopy. It uses a flexible or bendable cystoscope. A flexible cystoscopy is generally more comfortable for patients, but may not be the best choice for complex procedures.

  • Rigid cystoscopy uses a rigid or unbendable cystoscope. A rigid cystoscopy causes more discomfort, but it allows the doctor to use a variety of instruments to instill fluids or remove tissue samples or foreign objects.

Other procedures that may be performed 

Your doctor may perform diagnostic procedures in addition to a cystoscopy. These include:

  • Imaging exams, which include cystography (bladder X-ray using a contrast agent), X-ray of the kidney, ureters and bladder (KUB), and computed tomography (CT) scan

  • Tissue biopsy, which involves removing a sample of cells or tissues and testing it for cancer and other diseases

  • Ureteroscopy, which uses a longer and thinner tube to examine your ureters. Ureters are the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your urinary bladder.

  • Urodynamic studies, which include cystometry to evaluate the function of the bladder and urinary system

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 9, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Cystoscopy. American Urological Association Foundation.
  2. Cystoscopy: A Guide for Women. International Urogynecological Association.
  3. Cystoscopy and Uteroscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
  4. Cystoscopy for Women. Johns Hopkins Medicine.,P077....
  5. Tips from Patients, For Patients: Cystoscopy. American Bladder Cancer Network.

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