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cystoscopy (si-ˈstäs-kə-pē) is endoscopy of the urinary bladder via the urethra. It is carried out with a cystoscope.

Diagnostic cystoscopy is usually carried out with local anaesthesia. General anaesthesia is sometimes used for operative cystoscopic procedures.

The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. The cystoscope has lenses like a telescope or microscope. These lenses let the doctor focus on the inner surfaces of the urinary tract. Some cystoscopes use optical fibres (flexible glass fibres) that carry an image from the tip of the instrument to a viewing piece at the other end. Cystoscopes range from between the thickness of a pencil, up to approximately 9mm and have a light at the tip. Many cystoscopes have extra tubes to guide other instruments for surgical procedures to treat urinary problems.

There are two main types of cystoscopy - flexible and rigid - differing in the flexibility of the cystoscope. Flexible cystoscopy is carried out without the use of local anaesthesia on both sexes. Typically, xylocaine gel (such as the brand name Instillagel) is used as an anaesthetic, instilled in the urethra. Rigid cystoscopy can be performed under the same conditions, but is generally carried out under general anaesthesia, particularly in male subjects, due to the pain caused by the probe.

A doctor may recommend cystoscopy for any of the following conditions:[1]


Male and female urinary tracts

If a patient has a stone lodged higher in the urinary tract, the doctor may use a much finer calibre scope called a ureteroscope through the bladder and up into the ureter. (The ureter is the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder). The doctor can then see the stone and remove it with a small basket at the end of a wire which is inserted through an extra tube in the ureteroscope. For larger stones, the doctor may also use the extra tube in the ureteroscope to extend a flexible fiber that carries a laser beam to break the stone into smaller pieces that can then pass out of the body in the urine.

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