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What is cystoscopy?

This section contains information on the diagnostic procedure cystoscopy and includes an animated video on what happens during the procedure.

Your doctor has recommended that you have a cystoscopy. This procedure is used to examine your bladder. Your doctor will insert a cystoscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light on the end, through your urethra and into the bladder. This inside view allows your doctor to look for causes of bleeding or blockage, or any abnormalities of the bladder and its lining.

The procedure

Typically, you are awake for cystoscopy. Your urethra will be numbed with an anaesthetic spray or jelly, and you may also be given a sedative to relax you.

After the urethra is anaesthetised, the cystoscope—a flexible camera and instrument—is inserted into the urethra and the bladder. You can experience some urge to void when this is done. If a tumour can be seen or if a probe of fluid from the bladder (cytology) contains malignant cells, further diagnostic tests are needed.

Small biopsies can be taken immediately with the cystoscope. Larger biopsies or removal of tumours, called transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT), must be done under general or spinal anaesthesia.

CIS is diagnosed by combination of cystoscopy, irrigation cytology, and evaluation of multiple bladder biopsies or biopsies under enhanced cystoscopy using violet light (see Photodynamic diagnosis).

Cystoscopy video

What to expect after the procedure

After the examination, you might have some blood in your urine for a few days. Drinking an additional 500 mL per day (eg, two extra glasses of water) will help dilute the urine and flush out the blood. You might also have painful urination or have to urinate more often or more urgently. These short-term effects will pass. If they persist for more than 3 – 5 days, you might have a urinary tract infection and should contact your doctor.


Any biopsies taken during cystoscopy will be examined under a microscope. The result of these can take up to 2 weeks to be determined. You will receive a follow up appointment for the results. Depending on the results, your doctor will talk to you about further treatment and follow-up.

The information does not take into account your individual medical situation. If you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact your doctor. No information can replace a personal conversation with your doctor.

This EAU Patient Information project is supported by an educational grant from Astellas, Ipsen & F.Hoffman-La Roche

This information was produced by the European Association of Urology (EAU) Patient Information Working Group.

  • Prof. Dr. T. Bach
  • Dr. G. Patruno
  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Y. Tanidir
  • Dr. M. Sochaj

The content is written independently of the sponsor and judged free of any conflict of interest.