Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Cystoscopy

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Cystoscopy is a procedure to see inside your bladder.
  • There are 2 types of cystoscopy — flexible cystoscopy and rigid cystoscopy.
  • Cystoscopy may be done to check what’s causing symptoms such as blood in your urine (wee) or problems emptying your bladder.

What is a cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is a medical procedure where an instrument called a cystoscope is used to look inside your bladder. A cystoscope is a thin tube with a light and a small camera at the end.

Cystoscopy can help with diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the bladder and urinary system.

There are 2 types of cystoscopy:

  1. flexible cystoscopy (where a thin, bendy cystoscope is used, often in a clinic)
  2. rigid cystoscopy (where a cystoscope that does not bend is used in a hospital procedure)

When is a cystoscopy needed?

A cystoscopy is often recommended for people who have blood in their urine. It may also be done if you have problems urinating (doing a wee), pain or recurrent bladder infections.

Cystoscopy can be used to find and treat bladder cancer and other conditions.

If your doctor thinks you need to have a cystoscopy, they will refer you to a specialist called a urologist.

How to prepare for a cystoscopy

Your preparation for a cystoscopy depends on the type of cystoscopy and the anaesthetic being used.

Your doctor will talk to you about the need to stop eating and drinking several hours before the procedure if needed.

Ask your doctor about taking your usual medicines. You might need to stop taking some medicines such as aspirin for a few days before the procedure. But don't stop any medicines without asking your doctor first.

What happens during the procedure?

A cystoscopy can be done in a clinic (flexible cystoscopy) or in a hospital as a day procedure (rigid cystoscopy).

A cystoscopy can be uncomfortable, but it’s usually not painful.

Flexible cystoscopy

With a flexible cystoscopy, you will have a local anaesthetic gel or spray. This is to numb the area where the cystoscope is put in.

The flexible cystoscope is put into your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your body). The cystoscope is then gently guided into your bladder.

Your doctor will be able to see images from inside your bladder on a monitor. The procedure should only take a few minutes.

Rigid cystoscopy

For a rigid cystoscopy, you will have a general anaesthetic or a spinal anaesthetic. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.

During the procedure, the cystoscope is put into your urethra and then gently guided into your bladder. Your bladder is partly filled with sterile fluid so that your doctor can easily see your whole bladder lining.

Your doctor may take biopsies (tissue samples) from your bladder wall. It is also possible to remove small tumours or treat other problems during the procedure.

Your bladder will be emptied at the end of the procedure.

Recovering from a cystoscopy

For a few days after a flexible cystoscopy, you may see blood in your urine. You may also feel mild discomfort when passing urine (doing a wee).

For a few hours after a rigid cystoscopy, you may:

  • need to pass urine often
  • feel an urgent need to pass urine
  • have some difficulty controlling your bladder (incontinence)

These symptoms will usually settle quickly. You may also have some discomfort or blood in your urine for a few days after the procedure.

Drinking plenty of fluids after the procedure can help with these symptoms and help prevent infection.

Possible risks or complications from cystoscopy

Serious complications after a cystoscopy are rare. There is a small risk of:

Some people need a urinary catheter (tube in the bladder) for a few hours or days after a rigid cystoscopy.

Very rarely, bleeding persists after a cystoscopy. If it does, see your doctor.

Also see your doctor as soon as possible if:

  • you develop a fever
  • discomfort when passing urine is not improving or getting worse
  • you are having trouble passing urine

Resources and support

You can read more on preparing for surgery here.

If you want to know more about cystoscopy, you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2023


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Bladder Cancer Treatment - Targeting Cancer

Learn more about bladder cancer and find out about the different treatments available.

Read more on Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer website

Urinary tract infection (UTI) testing | Pathology Tests Explained

A UTI is an infection of one or more parts of the urinary tract. The urinary tract consists of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidney

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Upper tract urothelial cancer - Cancer Council Victoria

Upper tract urothelial cancer occurs in either the inner lining of the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder or within the inner lining of the kidney.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Cystitis | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

Cystitis is a relatively common condition which can affect males and females of all ages.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Chronic Pelvic Pain

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Benign prostatic hypertrophy | Pathology Tests Explained

Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, a small gland that encircles

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Upper tract urothelial cancer (UTUC) | Cancer Council

Find out more about upper tract urothelial cancer - a rare cancer that can occur in the ureter or within the inner lining of the kidney

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

What is a urologist? Introduction and information about urologists | myVMC

Urologists are specialists who treat people for problems and diseases of the urinary tract and male reproductive system. They treat men, women and children.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Endoscopy - MyDr.com.au

Endoscopy is a medical procedure where a doctor uses a thin flexible lighted tube inserted into the body to look for, diagnose, treat and prevent disease.

Read more on myDr website

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.