Cystoscopy Procedure and how it works

Cystoscopy Procedure and how it works

Here is an overview of cystoscopy, including why it is used, a rundown of the procedure, recovery process, and possible side effects.

Cystoscopy is a procedure to inspect the bladder and urethra using a small instrument called a cystoscope – a long thin tube with light and camera attached to the end. It should not be confused with a cystectomy, a different surgical procedure used to remove part of or the entire bladder.

The bladder is a muscular sac in the pelvis, about the size of a pear when empty with a capacity somewhere between 400 and 600ml when full. It receives urine from the kidneys and stores it for excretion via the urethra.

You may be required to have a cystoscopy for several reasons, usually to inspect and diagnose issues with the bladder or urethra, including blood in the urine, frequent UTIs (urinary tract infection), pain in the pelvis, or the constant need to urinate.

A cystoscopy may be required to diagnose some urological issues: bladder tumours, stones, bladder cancer, growths, blockages, enlarged prostate glands and issues with the ureters. Though a cystoscopy might feel embarrassing, it is a valuable procedure as it allows a urologist to find potential issues earlier, rather than later.



Cystoscopy is often performed with the patient under general anaesthesia. If not, local anaesthetic will be administered.

First, the cystoscope is inserted into the urethra. Here you may feel a slight burning or the sudden sensation that you are urinating. However, the anaesthetic will reduce pain significantly.

Depending on the nature of the surgery, different instruments may be used. A thin, flexible cystoscope will be used to get a clear visual of the bladder and urethra for a simple examination.

If a biopsy is required (for example, if the procedure is to diagnose cancer), a larger instrument will be used. This will allow a smaller instrument to pass through to take a tissue sample.

Depending on the anaesthesia administered, the procedure takes anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes in total.

Transurethral Resection of the Bladder


A cystoscopy is a relatively minor procedure, and it should only take a few days for you to recover fully. If a biopsy were required, recovery time would be a little longer (up to two weeks).

It is important to rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may experience a burning sensation when passing urine. Blood in the urine is also common; however, this should only last a few days.

Risks and Side Effects

As with any medical procedure, there are some minors risks, including bleeding and infection of the surgical site (UTI).

Possible side effects include swelling of the urethra (urethritis), which is common. This will make it hard to urinate. However, it should only last up to eight hours.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids to help the blood in your bladder pass. This reduces the risk of clots developing and causing a blockage.

Cystoscopy with Urology Specialist

Dr Arianayagam has been practising in Sydney since 2011 and has developed the reputation of being a skilled laparoscopic and robotic surgeon and an excellent teacher.

While he is primarily a urological cancer surgeon, Dr Arianayagam also sees patients with more general urological problems and routinely performs cystoscopy to diagnose and treat several issues. If you’re due for a urologist checkup, Dr Arianayagam is one of Sydney’s most trusted urologists and will be happy to help.

If you have any further questions about cystoscopy or would like to book an appointment, please feel free to call.

While you’re here, learn about some other procedures:

Laparoscopic Pyeloplasty and how it works

Robotic Adrenalectomy and how it works

Robotic Nephrectomy and how it works 

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