UKNOW’s Docs Procedures Cystoscopy

What is a Cystoscopy?

A Cystoscopy is a test that takes pictures of your bladder and urethra, the tube that carries your urine (pee) from the bladder to outside your body. The doctor uses a tiny camera and a light to look around and take pictures of inside your bladder to see how it is working. The cystoscope is like a telescope, helping the doctor to look at your bladder and urethra. This test is called a Cystoscopy because cysto means bladder and scopy means scope (to look for something). The scope is a tiny camera with a light that looks around and takes pictures.

Important Words

  • Bladder – holds your urine until you go to the bathroom, it is like a sac
  • Kidneys ? filter all the waste (the stuff the body does not need) from your blood
  • Urethra ? the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body

Why do I need to have a Cystoscopy?

The doctor needs to see inside your bladder and urethra to see how it is working and to find out what they need to do to help you. An X-Ray cannot see inside these body parts, so a Cystoscopy has to be done.   You may be having a hard time peeing or have been getting infections, so the doctor needs to find out what is happening with your bladder.

What does a Cystoscopy look like?

A Cystoscopy has a tiny video camera (scope) and a light at the end of a small very flexible tube. The light helps the doctor to see inside your body. The video camera can take a video or pictures of inside your bladder and urethra. These pictures will help the doctor to see what is happening inside your bladder. There is also a bed where you will lie down.

What happens when I have a Cystoscopy?

If you are staying in the hospital a porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the Cystoscopy.  If you are coming from home, you and your family will go to the area where you will have the Cystoscopy.  A nurse will greet you and explain what will happen.

The nurse will give you a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one. The nurse will help you to get on the bed.

The nurse will put a blanket over you to help keep you warm and make sure you are covered. For this test, you will be sleeping. It is a special kind of sleep where you will not feel, hear or see anything while the doctor does the test. A small mask will be placed over your nose and mouth, this will give you special sleep air medicine that will make you fall asleep. Remember this is a different sleep from what you do at home, you will not feel, hear or see anything while you are sleeping.

While you are asleep the doctor will use the cystoscope to look in your bladder and urethra. The doctor will gently slide a scope into your urethra and into your bladder through your private area on your body. Remember, you will be sleeping so you will not feel anything happening.

After the doctor has finished taking the pictures he needs, the scope will be taken out and you will be brought to the recovery room. The recovery room is where you will start to wake up. You will be able to rest a while; you may still feel a little sleepy. The doctor may ask you to pee. Sometimes after having a cystoscope, when you pee you may feel a little burning and may see some red in your pee, this is just a little blood. This is NORMAL and will go away. You can help it to go away by drinking a lot of water.

What will the Cystoscopy feel like?

  • During the test you will not feel, hear or see anything because you will be sleeping because of the special sleep medicine.
  • When you wake up, you may feel a little tired from the sleep medicine you had.
  • After the test, when you have to pee, you may feel a little burning and see some red in your pee, this is a little blood. This is NORMAL and will go away in a few days. Remember that you can help it to go away by drinking lots of water.

Preparing for the test

Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your Cystoscopy.

You will be told that you will not be able to eat or drink anything before the test, because you will be having sleep medicine. If you have food in your stomach when you get the sleep medicine you may feel sick and throw up.

Sometimes before the test, the doctors will ask you to pee in a special cup with a lid. Your pee can also give the doctors information about how your bladder is working.


If you have any questions about the test, always ask!

This content has been reviewed and approved by health care team members at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. All content is for educational purposes only. For further information, please speak with your health care team.

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