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What is the purpose of a cystoscopy?

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Quick Answer

Cystoscopy is a medical procedure that doctors use to diagnose, monitor and treat conditions of the bladder and urethra, such as bladder cancer, bladder stones and cystitis, as well as blood in the urine, urinary incontinence, persistent urinary tract infections, pain during urination and chronic pelvic pain. Doctors also use the procedure to remove small bladder tumors and diagnose prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

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Full Answer

During a cystoscopy procedure, the doctor inserts a cystoscope, which is a hollow narrow tube with a light and camera at the tip, into the patient's urethra and slowly slides it up to the bladder, carefully examining the urethral and bladder lining for signs of abnormalities along the way. The doctor may perform the procedure at a clinic in an outpatient setting with the use of a local numbing anesthetic gel or sedation or at a hospital under general anesthesia, depending on the purpose of the procedure. The whole procedure from start to finish typically takes 15 to 20 minutes, but may take longer if the doctor removes a stone or performs a biopsy.

After the procedure, patients commonly experience a burning sensation upon urination or void small amounts of blood with their urine. In rare cases, patients may experience lower abdominal pains or bladder spasms. To relieve discomfort, patients may drink about four cups of water over two hours, take a warm bath or hold a warm compress over their urethral openings.

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