How It Is Done
Cystoscopy is done by a urologist, with one or more assistants. The test is done in a hospital or the doctor's office.
You'll need to take off all or most of your clothes. You'll have a cloth or paper covering to use during the test.
About an hour before the test, you may get a sedative to help you relax. An intravenous (IV) needle may be placed in your arm to give you other medicines and fluids. You will lie on your back on a table with your knees bent, legs apart. Your feet or thighs may be placed in stirrups. Your genital area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Your belly and thighs are covered with sterile cloths.
For this test, you will have one of three kinds of anesthesia.
Local anesthetic. This anesthetic is inserted in your urethra.
General anesthetic. You are put to sleep either with medicine through an IV or with gases inhaled through a mask. Sometimes both methods are used.
Spinal anesthetic. The doctor or nurse first numbs the area on your back where the needle will be inserted. Then the needle is guided into the spinal canal and the anesthetic is injected. You may not be able to move your legs until the medicine wears off.
After the anesthetic takes effect, the cystoscope tube is inserted into your urethra and slowly moved into your bladder. If your urethra has a spot that is too narrow, other smaller tools are inserted first. They will gradually make it large enough for the tube.
Next, the doctor injects either sterile water or salt water (saline) to help make your bladder larger and to create a clear view. The doctor may also inject medicine to reduce chances of infection.
The doctor can also insert tiny tools through the tube to collect tissue samples for biopsy. The tissue samples are sent to the lab to be checked.
The tube is usually in your bladder for only 2 to 10 minutes. But if other X-ray tests are done at the same time, the entire test may take up to 45 minutes or longer.
If a local anesthetic is used, you may be able to get up right after the test. If a general anesthetic is used, you will stay in the recovery room until you are awake and able to walk. (This usually takes an hour or less.) You can eat and drink as soon as you are fully awake and can swallow without choking. If a spinal anesthetic was used, you will stay in the recovery room until feeling and movement below your chest returns. (This usually takes about an hour.)