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A cystoscopy is a diagnostic imaging test that uses a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end to view the urethra and bladder. This is an outpatient procedure and typically takes about 10 minutes. The doctor is able to see inside the bladder, ureters, urethra, and prostate using this method.
Tissue samples can also be taken during a cystoscopy if your doctor suspects you have cancer or infection.
A cystoscopy can be done in two ways, either by inserting a cystoscope into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder) or by inserting it through the anus into the rectum, then into the bladder. In most cases, a cystoscopy through the urethra is used.
A cystoscope may be bi-directional or uni-directional, depending on what your doctor needs to see. A bi-directional one has both ends open so that instruments can be passed through it to assist with the procedure or for any possible tissue removal. A uni-directional one has only one opening for viewing and taking samples.
There are three typical reasons why a cystoscopy may be recommended:
The procedure doesn't cause any pain during the procedure itself, but it can be uncomfortable afterward while you recover. You might feel pain in your lower back or pelvic area. This is called post-cystoscopy syndrome (PCS) and can last anywhere from a few hours to several days after the procedure.
Recovery time: Cystoscopy depends on if you have any complications during or after the procedure. Most people recover within 24 hours without any major issues. A small percentage of people experience PCS, which can cause pain for up to two weeks after the procedure.
“You can alleviate some of the discomforts by drinking water to eliminate irritants from your bladder. For the first two hours following the surgery, try to consume 16 ounces (473 milliliters) of water every hour. Take a pain reliever that is available over-the-counter,” Dr. Cranie
If you have no medical conditions which might contraindicate it, you may take any pain medication before or after the procedure. If your physician gives you something, please follow his/her advice. All pain medications are basically the same and are metabolized by the liver. The analgesic effect will last for approximately 4-5 hours unless more medication is taken.
The typical recovery period after a cystoscopy will depend on the circumstances of your procedure, but it's common to feel some soreness and discomfort for a few hours after the test. It's also normal to have some blood in your urine as well as other signs of inflammation like fever and chills.
However, there are some cases when doctors prescribe antibiotics after a cystoscopy. “Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to take before and after cystoscopy, especially if you have trouble fighting off infections.” Dr. Cranie
This article is not intended to replace medical advice given to you by your doctor.
Janet Coleman (pictured) is a health expert based in Colorado, USA. She writes content based on the health and wellness of the people for publications such as TheConsumerMag.
Dr. Tabitha Cranie, MD, is an experienced urologist with over a decade's experience currently living in St. Petersburg, Florida.