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What is the test?

Cystoscopy enables your doctor to take a direct look inside your bladder through a small camera inserted through the urethra. It is a common test used to look for causes of bleeding in the urine and some other bladder problems.

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How do I prepare for the test?

Tell your doctor ahead of time if you have ever had an allergic reaction to lidocaine or the numbing medicine used at the dentist's office.

If you take aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or other medicines that affect blood clotting, talk with your doctor. It may be necessary to stop or adjust the dose of these medicines before your test.

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What happens when the test is performed?

You wear a hospital gown for the test and lie on your back on a table with your knees bent and your feet in footrests. The opening to your urethra (at the end of the penis or the outside of the vagina) and the skin around it is cleaned with soap. Most patients then have a squirt or two of a jelly-like numbing medicine pushed inside the opening of the urethra with a plastic syringe. This makes it possible to insert the camera without causing discomfort.

A tubular instrument called a cystoscope, which is about the width of a pencil, is pushed inside the urethra and moved forward until its end is inside the bladder. Clear fluid (saltwater) is pumped through this tube into your bladder to expand it, so that your doctor can see the inside of the bladder clearly. You may feel some fullness from this fluid and experience the urge to urinate. There is a small light and a very small camera on the end of the cystoscope, which enable your doctor to view the inside of your bladder on a TV screen. The end of the scope can be moved in different directions with remote control, to show all parts of the bladder.

The test takes about five minutes from the time that the camera is inserted. Then the camera is pulled out and you are free to use the bathroom.

If you are going to have a biopsy done during this test, you might require some additional anesthesia. Your doctor will discuss your need for a biopsy with you before the test.

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What risks are there from the test?

Most patients will have some burning or soreness in their urethra, penis, or vagina after the test for a short time. It is common to see some blood in the urine for 24 to 48 hours after the exam.

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Must I do anything special after the test is over?

You should call your doctor if you have persistent bleeding, bleeding with clots, or a fever after this test.

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How long is it before the result of the test is known?

Your doctor can tell you what was seen inside your bladder right after the test. If you have a biopsy sample taken, analysis will take several days.

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