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Cystoscopy (also known as cystourethroscopy or “cysto”), is a scope exam of the bladder that allows for a detailed look at the urethra and the bladder lining. It is used to look for causes of hematuria (blood in the urine), or to look for causes of difficulty urinating such as scar tissue or prostate enlargement.

The cystoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure in a treatment room in the urology clinic. Before the procedure, a urine test will be done to check for infection. (If an infection is found the procedure may have to be postponed.) Next, the patient will be positioned lying on an examination table and a nurse will set up a sterile drape and wash the genitals. After the urethra is numbed with lidocaine jelly, the scope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. The cystoscope is a thin, lighted tube about the width of a pencil that bends to follow the curve of the urethra. Sterile fluid is run through the scope to help fill the bladder and allow the caregiver to see the lining of the urethra and bladder. Sometimes the provider will collect some of the fluid to send for testing for cytology (abnormal cells).

Normally the set up for the cystoscopy procedure takes 10-15 minutes and the scope is in the bladder for 5 minutes or less.

After the procedure, the urethra may be sore and there may be a burning sensation for up to 48 hours. If pain continues for several days, or there is a fever of greater than 101F or urine appears bright red after 48 hours, the urology clinic should be contacted.