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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, he or she 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 will get gel to numb your urethra. This makes the procedure more comfortable. Then the doctor puts the tube into your urethra and moves it into your bladder. Next, the doctor fills your bladder with liquid. This helps him or her 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.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before the procedure?

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • 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.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • 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.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

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?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.