It may look like cystoscopy will be painful, but it does not usually cause distressing levels of pain.
It may look like cystoscopy will be painful, but it does not usually cause distressing levels of pain.

It may look like cystoscopy will be painful, but it does not usually cause distressing levels of pain. Some discomfort will be experienced during the procedure and when the scope is inserted inside the urinary opening, but your doctor will do their best to be gentle and cause the least pain.

If your doctor/urologist (urinary system specialist) is using a flexible cystoscope you may feel less pain (both men and women). Studies have demonstrated that the most painful part of flexible cystoscopy is when the tip of the cystoscope is inserted into the outer urinary opening. However, your doctor/urologist will apply a local anesthetic gel to numb that place.

If the doctor/urologist is using a rigid cystoscope, you will be given an anesthesia injection. You will not have any pain or discomfort during the procedure because of sedation and numbness.

You must inform your doctor or nurse if you feel any pain during the procedure. There may be some discomfort or inconvenience because you may feel like a need to pee during the procedure, which may last for a few minutes. You may feel more pain during your first few cystoscopies but for repeated ones, you may feel relatively less pain. After the procedure, your urinary opening may be sore, and it might burn when you pee for 1-2 days.

What does cystoscopy mean?

A cystoscopy is a test, which your doctor or urologist may recommend, to check the health of your urinary opening (urethra) and bladder. It is also known as cystourethroscopy or bladder (urine pouch) scope.

It is one of the most common procedures performed for urinary problems to check lower urine passage and diagnose the diseases of

  • Urethra (urine opening)
  • Prostate (male gland)
  • Bladder

In this procedure, an optical instrument (cystoscope) is inserted into your urethra and the bladder. This cystoscope may be made of metal and rigid or flexible.

This test allows your doctor/urologist to view the inside of your bladder and urethra in detail and investigate the complete length of your urine opening, urine pouch polyps (tissue growth with a stalk), narrow areas (strictures), abnormal growths (cancer/tumor) and other problems.

Why does your doctor suggest cystoscopy?

Your doctor may perform a cystoscopy if you have

Your doctor may perform a cystoscopy to diagnose diseases like

Your doctor may perform a cystoscopy to treat conditions. A cystoscope can remove small tumors.

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What happens during the cystoscopy?

If your doctor is using

  • The flexible cystoscope, is a very quick procedure and takes about 5-15 minutes.
  • In the rigid cystoscope, you will be given sedatives or anesthesia. It will take about 15-30 minutes.

Before the procedure:

Your doctor/urologist may

  • Ask you to empty your bladder.
  • Ask you to lie down on a table on your back.
  • Apply a numbing gel (Lidocaine) to your urethra to reduce any discomfort or pain (in case of flexible cystoscopy) or administer anesthetic (local or general) for sedation (in case of rigid cystoscopy).

During the procedure:

Your urologist may

  • Insert a rigid/flexible optic thin, lighted tube with a lens (cystoscope) through your urine opening (urethra) into the bladder.
  • Infuse a sterile solution of water or saline into the bladder through the cystoscope to stretch the bladder wall, for a clear view.
  • Remove the cystoscope once the diagnosis or treatment is completed.

You may feel a pressure sensation while passing the scope/probe through your urine opening or while the bladder is getting filled.

After the procedure:

You can resume your daily routine if you have not given any sedation (in case of flexible cystoscopy). However, if you have been given a sedative or local anesthesia (rigid cystoscopy), you have to stay in the recovery area until the effect of anesthesia wears off.

You may feel soreness, find some blood in your urine, or feel a burning sensation while peeing. All these symptoms subside within 12 to 24 hours. If you still have pain after 48 hours, have a fever, or still find bloody or bright red urine, you must consult your doctor/urologist.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/18/2020
References
WebMD. Cystoscopy or bladder scope test. https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/cystoscopy.

NHS. What happens: Cystoscopy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystoscopy/what-happens/#:~:text=People%20often%20worry%20that%20a,only%20last%20a%20few%20minutes.

Greenstein A, Greenstein I, Senderovich S, Mabjeesh NJ. Is Diagnostic Cystoscopy Painful? Analysis of 1,320 Consecutive Procedures. International Braz J Urol. 2014;40(4):533-538. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1677-5538.IBJU.2014.04.13.