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Cystoscopy: Before Your Procedure

Cystoscope placement through urethra into bladder

What is a cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is a procedure that lets a doctor look inside your bladder and urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.

The doctor uses a thin, lighted tool called a cystoscope. With this tool, the doctor can look for kidney or bladder stones. The doctor can also look for tumours, bleeding, or infection.

If you are in a clinic and you are awake, you may get gel to numb your urethra. This makes the procedure more comfortable. Then the doctor puts the cystoscope into your urethra and moves it into your bladder. Next, the doctor fills your bladder with liquid. This helps the doctor see better. It may cause you to feel pressure in your bladder area for a short time.

If you are in the hospital, you may get medicine to make you sleep during the procedure. While you are asleep, the doctor can take samples of tissue. These will be checked for cancer and other problems. This is called a biopsy. If you have a biopsy, you may have a small amount of blood in your urine for several days. You may also need a catheter. It's a tube that drains urine from your bladder. Your doctor will take it out at your follow-up visit.

What happens before the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect if you will be having this done in a hospital. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Talk to your doctor about the types of anesthesia and which type is best for you.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

If you are having a cystoscopy at your doctor's office, follow any instructions you are given. But if your procedure is being done at the hospital or surgery centre, here's how to prepare.

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of your procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be asked to empty your bladder just before the procedure.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • In most cases, the cystoscope is in the bladder for less than 10 minutes. But the entire test may take up to 45 minutes or longer.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

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