What is a Cystoscopy?
A cystoscopy procedure, otherwise known as a cystourethroscopy, is used to check your urethra and bladder for polyps, narrow areas called strictures, abnormal growths, and other problems. Cystoscopy is also called a cystourethroscopy, cystourethroscopy procedure, cystoscopy test, and cystoscopic examination.
Types of Cystoscopy and Their Purpose
There are two main types of Cystoscopy. Each type has its own specific purpose and method. However, in both types, your doctor inserts a thin tube into your urethra. The tube is outfitted with a tiny light and camera.
A flexible cystoscopy procedure uses a flexible tube. This is an outpatient procedure where you will usually stay awake while the exam is performed.
A rigid cystoscopy uses a straight, non-flexible tube. This is an outpatient procedure, and your doctor will either administer a general anesthetic to put you to sleep or numb the lower half of your body.
What to Expect During Cystoscopy
Cystoscopy is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Your doctor will provide instructions for cystoscopy preparation. For both types of cystoscopy, you will empty your bladder and then lay down for the exam. Your doctor will either administer a sedative, general anesthetic, or numb the bottom half of your body. Next, your doctor will insert the cystoscope to examine your bladder. If needed, your doctor may remove a small tissue for further examination, called a biopsy.
During flexible cystoscopy, your doctor will help you get into a comfortable position for the procedure. There is no special body position required. You will be awake for the entire procedure, although your doctor will give you a sedative that will likely make you feel sleepy. Your medical team will clean your genital area, numb your urethra with a topical gel, and place a sheet around the examination area.
Then, your doctor will insert the thin tube into your urethra and navigate it to your bladder. Your doctor may pump water into your bladder to get better pictures with the tiny camera affixed to the tube. The camera sends images to a nearby computer so that your doctor can examine your bladder.
If your doctor notices any abnormalities, they may use tools on the cystoscope to remove a small piece of tissue for a biopsy.
During the procedure, you will lie on your back with your knees bent and elevated, perhaps in stirrups. You will either be put to sleep with a general anesthetic, or the bottom half of your body numbed.
Your medical team will prepare the examination site by cleaning your genitals, numbing your urethra with a topical gel, and covering the area around the examination site with a plastic sheet.
Once the rigid cystoscopy is inserted, your doctor will analyze the images of your bladder. Water may be pumped into your bladder to get a clearer view. Your doctor may remove a small amount of tissue for a biopsy.
Preparation and Recovery
Your doctor will provide instructions for cystoscopy preparation. There are some differences in cystoscopy preparation and cystoscopy recovery based on the specific type of procedure.
In preparation for the procedure, your doctor will instruct you to avoid eating and drinking a few hours before your exam. Your doctor may also suggest how to manage any medication you may be taking. Antibiotics might be prescribed to help prevent infection. You will also be asked to empty your bladder immediately before the procedure.
After the procedure, you will be moved to a recovery room until you feel fully awake. You may get your cystoscopy results right away or wait 2-3 weeks for biopsy results.
For rigid cystoscopy, your doctor will give you instructions to stop eating and drinking a few hours before the procedure. If you are taking any medications, your doctor will instruct you how to manage your medication in preparation for the rigid cystoscopy. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection.
After the procedure, you will be moved to a recovery room. Since you will not be allowed to drive for 24 hours, we recommend that you prearrange someone to drive you home.
If there were no abnormalities in your test, you may get your results right away. If your doctor removed tissue for a biopsy, you may wait 2-3 weeks for the full results.
You may experience complications after a cystoscopy. These cystoscopy side effects range from mild to serious.
Possible cystoscopy complications:
- Cystoscopy pain—It is common to experience mild pain in your stomach and discomfort when you urinate for the first 24-48 hours after the procedure.
- Bleeding—You might notice trace amounts of blood in your urine. Heavy bleeding is not common.
- Infection—In rare cases, you might develop a urinary tract infection.
The after-cystoscopy problems might be serious if you experience certain symptoms such as chills, difficulty urinating, a high fever, heavy blood in your urine, or painful urination that lasts longer than two days.
If you or a loved one experience any serious side effects after a cystoscopy, please contact your doctor for additional care.
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