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A cystoscopy is an examination of the internal surfaces of bladder and urethra.

A cystoscope is a long thin instrument with an eyepiece on one end and a lens and light on the other end. The doctor inserts the cystoscope into patient’s urethra and the small lens magnifies the inner lining of the urethra and bladder, allowing the doctor to see inside the bladder.

A doctor may perform a cystoscopy to find the cause of many urinary conditions, including:

  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Blood in the urine, called haematuria
  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate
  • Unusual cells found in a urine sample
  • Painful urination, chronic pelvic pain, or interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome
  • Urinary blockage caused by prostate enlargement or some other abnormal narrowing of the urinary tract
  • Stone in the urinary tract
  • Unusual growth such as a tumour in the urinary tract

People scheduled for a cystoscopy should ask their doctor about any special instructions.


The doctor gently inserts the tip of the cystoscope into the urethra and slowly glides it up into the bladder. A sterile liquid flows through a channel in the scope to slowly fill the bladder and stretch it so the doctor has a better view of the bladder wall.

As the bladder is filled with liquid, patients can feel some discomfort or pressure and the urge to urinate if the procedure if performed under local anaesthesia. The doctor may then release some of the fluid, or the patient may empty the bladder as soon as the examination is over.

Possible risks of a cystoscopy include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Burning and stinging with urination