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JAMA Patient Page
March 21, 2017


Author Affiliations

Copyright 2017 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

JAMA. 2017;317(11):1187. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0364

Cystoscopy is a visual inspection of the inside of your bladder and urethra.

Cystoscopy is performed using a small telescope with a camera called a cystoscope to look at the lining of the bladder and the urethra. Cystoscopy can be performed in a number of settings, including a doctor’s office or an operating room, with either topical pain medicine (a numbing jelly in the urethra) or under an anesthetic (general or sedation).

Reasons for Cystoscopy

A doctor may recommend a cystoscopy for a number of reasons, including either visible or microscopic blood in the urine, bothersome urinary symptoms, recurrent urinary tract infections, as a surveillance method after bladder or certain types of kidney cancer, or as part of a biopsy (diagnostic) or tumor destruction (therapeutic) procedure. No other tests are able to accurately evaluate the inner lining of the bladder to avoid cystoscopy.

Preparation for Cystoscopy

Your doctor may want you to provide a urine sample to ensure that there is no infection prior to the procedure. He or she may also prescribe a dose of an antibiotic pill to be taken on the day of the procedure. Additional preparation such as stopping blood thinning medications may be needed if a biopsy is planned.


The patient either lies flat on his or her back or places the feet into stirrups for the procedure. The genital area is cleaned prior to beginning. The cystoscope is then guided into the bladder through the urethra. The bladder is slowly filled with fluid to better visualize the entire lining. This will mimic the feeling of having a full bladder; however, patients who are awake during the procedure generally do not experience pain. The procedure is typically complete within a few minutes depending on the need for biopsy or other intervention.

After Cystoscopy

Some patients experience mild discomfort, such as burning with urination, for a few days after cystoscopy. Pink or red discoloration of the urine with blood may be possible as well. You should report any fever, blood clots, or worsening pain after cystoscopy to your doctor. It is important to stay well hydrated after this procedure.

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Article Information

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

Source: Principles of endoscopy. In: Wein AJ, Louis Kavoussi LR, Campbell MF. Campbell-Walsh Urology. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 8.

Topic: Bladder and Urinary Tract