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Examination of the bladder and urethra using a cystoscope, inserted into the urethra. A cystoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Cystoscopy

A cystoscopy is an examination of the inside of the bladder and urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. In men, the urethra is the tube that runs through the penis. The doctor performing the examination uses a cystoscope—a long, thin instrument with an eyepiece on the external end and a tiny lens and a light on the end that is inserted into the bladder. The doctor inserts the cystoscope into the patient's urethra, and the small lens magnifies the inner lining of the urethra and bladder, allowing the doctor to see inside the hollow bladder. Many cystoscopes have extra channels within the sheath to insert other small instruments that can be used to treat or diagnose urinary problems.

A doctor may perform a cystoscopy to find the cause of many urinary conditions, including

  • frequent urinary tract infections
  • blood in the urine, which is called hematuria
  • frequent and urgent need to urinate
  • unusual cells found in a urine sample
  • painful urination, chronic pelvic pain, or interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome
  • urinary blockage caused by prostate enlargement or some other abnormal narrowing of the urinary tract
  • a stone in the urinary tract, such as a kidney stone
  • an unusual growth, polyp, tumor, or cancer in the urinary tract

NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Blue Light Cystoscopy in Patients with Suspected Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Carcinoma: A Review of Clinical Utility [Internet]

According to Canadian Cancer Statistics, bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer, accounting for more than 4% of all cancers or 7,800 cases per year. Of all incidents of bladder cancer cases at first diagnosis, about 80% were non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) and 20% were muscle invasive and advanced bladder cancer. Smoking is the main risk factor of bladder cancer., Other risk factors include exposure to chemicals such as aromatic compounds, radiation and chemotherapy., The most common symptom of bladder cancer is the presence of blood in the urine. Bladder cancer is diagnosed by means of cystoscopy and transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBT) in combination with urine analysis and cytology., The tumors are classified based on the degree of invasion into layers of tissues; CIS (flat on surface or carcinoma in situ), Ta (raspberry growth on surface), and T1 (moves into submucosa layer) are those not yet invading into the muscle or NMIBC, while T2a, T2b, T3b and T4a are those invade deeper into the muscle layer and perivesical fat tissue. About 60% of NMIBC are Ta type, while CIS and T1 account for 10% and 30%, respectively. After the initial removal of NMIBC by TURBT, tumors can come back (recurrence) or come back and invade into the muscle layer (progression). Tumors are graded based on the risk of progression and metastasis. For instance, Ta tumors are usually low grade (non-aggressive) but have high risk of recurrence and just require repeated scraping, while CIS and T1 tumors are high grade (aggressive), have a high risk of progression to muscle layer and require more aggressive treatment.

Effectiveness of fetal cystoscopy as a diagnostic and therapeutic intervention for lower urinary tract obstruction: a systematic review

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effectiveness of fetal cystoscopy in the prenatal diagnosis of and intervention for congenital lower urinary tract obstruction.

Therapeutic outcome of fluorescence cystoscopy guided transurethral resection in patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

OBJECTIVES: To conduct a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to assess the therapeutic outcome of fluorescence cystoscopy (FC) guided transurethral resection (TUR) in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).

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Summaries for consumers

Cystitis: Overview

Cystitis is very common in women. It is caused by a bacterial infection. Typical symptoms include a burning pain during urination, often associated with having to go the bathroom more often. There are effective treatments for uncomplicated cystitis, and it usually clears up without any problems.

Bladder and Other Urothelial Cancers Screening (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about tests used to detect or screen for bladder cancer.

Fluids and diuretics for treating acute ureteric colic

Kidney stones are most commonly formed from masses of crystals and protein. Movement of stones from the kidney through the urinary tract is a common cause of urinary tract obstruction in adults and can cause severe pain (colic). This review aimed to determine if increased fluids and diuretics or both could hasten the passage of stones and improve symptoms. Neither our initial review nor this subsequent update identified sufficient evidence to enable conclusions to be determined about the safety and effectiveness of increasing fluids or diuretics or both to treat people with acute ureteric colic. More and larger randomised controlled studies are required.

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Terms to know

The organ that stores urine.
Cystitis (Bladder Infection)
Inflammation of the bladder, causing pain and a burning feeling in the pelvis or urethra.
A procedure that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of the body. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Examination of the inside of the kidney and ureter, using a ureteroscope. A ureteroscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing.
The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
An illness caused by harmful bacteria growing in the urinary tract.

More about Cystoscopy

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: Endoscopic examination of bladder, Endoscopy of bladder, Endoscopy of urinary bladder

Other terms to know: See all 6
Bladder, Cystitis (Bladder Infection), Endoscopy

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