Cystoscopy or bladder test is a test to assess the health of the urethra and bladder by inserting a thin, flexible tube mounted with a camera on top and light on the end. This tube is called cystoscope and is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to check the functioning and health of the structures, as well as development of any abnormalities. The camera placed on top of the tube provides real-time magnified internal images, enabling the doctors to scan for problems and check the health.
Purpose of a Cystoscopy
A Cystoscopy may be performed by the doctor in case of the patient experiencing urinary problems such as frequent need/desire to urinate or pain while urinating. However, a cystoscopy may also be performed to determine the reasons for:
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urinary tract infection (UTI)
- An overactive bladder
- Intense pelvic pain
A cystoscopy can provide an assessment of the following health conditions, such as:
- Bladder tumour
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Non-cancerous growth
- Issues with the ureter
More so, a cystoscopy can also be used as a technique to remove small stones or bladder tumours; it can also help in treating bladder conditions. Some other cases, where a cystoscopy is useful are:
- Collecting sample urine to check for tumours and infection
- Inserting a small, flexible tube to correct urine flow
- Injecting dye to conduct an X-ray and help diagnose kidney problems
Procedure of Cystoscopy
Before the procedure, the doctor will direct the patient to empty the bladder, change into the gown and lie down on the back with the feet positioned in stirrups. The patient is given antibiotics to prevent bladder infection. Post which, the patient is put under the influence of anaesthesia – local or general – depending on the purpose of the Cystoscopy. The urethra will be numbed through an anaesthesia spray, though the patient might still feel some sensations and mid pain.
The doctor will then place gel on the scope and cautiously insert it into the urethra. This process might burn a little though it will be bearable. If the purpose of the cystoscopy is investigatory – then a flexible scope will be used; however, in other cases, a thick and more rigid scope is used, to allow surgical instruments to pass through.
Post, inserting the scope, a dye or a sterile solution is injected, allowing it to flow through the blood into the bladder, providing a clear picture of the internal functioning – making it easier for the doctors. The procedure does not last for more than 30 minutes.
Preparation for Cystoscopy
To prepare for the cystoscopy, the doctor will recommend certain antibiotics to patients who have UTI or a weak immune system. The doctor may also collect a urine sample before the procedure to assess health conditions.
Post the surgery, the patient might feel drowsy and weak; hence, arrangements – such as ride back home, adequate facilities at home, someone to take care for a few days, etc. – should be made beforehand. Also, the patient must consult the doctor about continuing any medications post-surgery since they can cause side effects or complications, including bleeding.
Potential risks of Cystoscopy
A person might experience some after effects post a cystoscopy, which is temporary and will fade away on their own. These include:
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Increased frequency of urination
- Blood in urine
It is advisable not to hold urine since that can cause the blood in the bladder to clot, creating a blockage. Drinking water and fluids help relieve these after-effects of a cystoscopy.
That said, in some cases, people might develop serious complications such as:
Swollen Urethra: Some people might experience swelling in the urethra, making it more sensitive and vulnerable. This might cause difficulty while urinating. In case there is a problem in urinating that lasts for more than 8 hours, medical help should be taken.
Infection: In rare cases, some germs might enter the urinary tract causing infection and related problems such as foul-smelling urine, nausea, lower back pain, fever, etc.
Bleeding: Some people might experience more bleeding than normal, post a procedure; hence, consult the doctor if you have uncontrollable bleeding.
Moreover, if the below symptoms are shown, a doctor must be called immediately:
- High fever
- Tissue clots in urine
- Unable to urinate
- Consistent and acute stomach ache
Recovering after a Cystoscopy
A cystoscopy is a safe, simple and quick procedure with shorter recovery time. Some steps that can aid the recovery after a cystoscopy are:
- Getting enough rest
- Drinking lots of water and fluids
- Staying close to the washroom
- Keeping a damp, warm cloth over the urethra
- Taking prescribed medicines
- Getting someone to take care of you
- Eating well as suggested by the doctor
- Avoiding alcohol
- Not driving back home after the procedure
- Refrain from physical activity until full recovery
- Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous work
- Ask the doctor before a sexual intercourse
In all, a cystoscopy is a beneficial, effective and quick method with minimum complications to cure and detect health problems.