Bladder and kidneys diagram

A cystoscopy uses a small tube  with a camera at one end to see inside your bladder. A cystoscopy is usually done to diagnose bladder cancer. You may also have one later or as part of your follow-up care.

Before the test

You may be asked to drink lots of fluid before the test, as it can be easier to do the test when your bladder is full. You may be given a local anaesthetic before the test. This is done by squeezing an anaesthetic gel into the opening of your water pipe (urethra). You may also have a sedative injection. Some patients will have a general anaesthetic.

During the test

Your surgeon will put the camera up through your water pipe to look into your bladder. Instruments can also be passed through the cystoscope so that the surgeon can take a sample of tissue (biopsy). 

After the test

If you have a sedative you can go home once it wears off (about an hour). Make sure you arrange for someone to take you home as you’re not allowed to drive for 24 hours after a sedative. If you have a general anaesthetic you will need to stay in hospital until you have recovered from the anaesthetic.

How long does it take?

10-20 minutes

Are there any risks /side-effects?

You may get some pain or a burning sensation when you pass urine for a day or two after the test. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to flush out your bladder. Tell your doctor if the symptoms carry on, get worse or if you have symptoms of infection, such as a high temperature.

Cystoscopy video

Cancer Research UK has a very helpful video on this.

For more information

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