Cytoscopy: Bladder Testing
What Is It?
Cystoscopy or cytourethroscopy is a procedure that lets doctors view the inside of the bladder and the urethra, which is helpful in diagnosing infections and other disorders of the bladder and urinary tracts. This test is valuable for diagnosing many different illnesses both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). A doctor may order a cystoscopy for many reasons. You may complain of several symptoms that suggest further testing is necessary. Most doctors will firs take your complete history and perform an in office exam. Your doctor may also ask you to undergo some radiological testing.
A urine sample may reveal you have bacterial in your urine. If this is true your doctor may order a round of antibiotics to see if that helps improve your situation. Most doctors will try several different treatment choices before they recommend even a minimally invasive surgery. Be sure you go to your doctor fully informed by asking your doctor any questions you may have about your illness. If you feel shy write them down ahead of time so you don’t forget what you came to ask.
If your doctor does recommend a cystoscopy make sure you make arrangements to have someone pick you up and drop you off the day of surgery. This will be necessary even if you have a light topical anesthetic because you will experience some pain and discomfort, too much to drive for some people.
A cystoscopy involves use of a unique type of endoscope which is basically nothing more than a thin and narrow tube that has a small camera on it. There is a flexible one doctors often use to see around corners etc. The doctor will spend up to 20 minutes using the scope to view the urethra and bladder, usually after the patient is resting and a local anesthetic has been applied to the surrounding area.
During the procedure the doctor will inspect a solution of water or saline into the bladder and assess how this feels to the patient. The doctor will also view the bladder wall and biopsy the tissue of the wall to check for infection and cancer.
Alternatives to Surgery
There are many other tools a doctor may use to test for abnormalities of the urinary tract. A doctor may have a patient perform a urinary test that may reveal bacteria in the urine, which is a sign of a bladder or kidney infection. A doctor may also draw serum tests that may reveal a high white cell count which is also a sign of infection.
Another tool your doctor may use includes a ureteroscope. This lets your doctor visualize the ureter so it is easier to diagnose and subsequently treat problems like kidney stones. Some doctors will simply prescribe a proper diet and exercise program, one that will have you drinking lots of water and eating lots of fiber to help you
Before The Operation
You will need to empty your bladder. You should fast for several hours before the procedure if your doctor plans to use general anesthesia. Your doctor may provide you with other specific instructions depending on your unique situation. Your doctor will take a complete medical history and may perform one or more radiological studies. Your doctor may also take a urine test. An observation of your symptoms and what the doctor sees during this test may provide the doctor with clues as to what your diagnosis is.
After The Operation
No special recovery is needed. It helps to drink several glasses of water for a week following the procedure. Some patients will experience a small bloody discharge for a few days following their cystocopy. Your doctor may reveal to you whether you have normal or abnormal results. Abnormal results do not necessarily mean something serious is wrong however many health conditions may be associated with abnormal results. Some more common health conditions include:
- Bladder stones
- Enlarged prostate
These are all noncancerous conditions.
There is a slight risk for infection so some healthcare providers may recommend prophylaxis treatment with antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. Some patients may also bleed more than usual following a biopsy. There is also a very small risk of bladder rupture during biopsy resulting from use of the cytoscope.
Some patients may have a rare complication that results in the growth of scar tissue at the incision site. Sometimes called adhesions, these growths can be quite painful at times. They can also grow to block other organs including the bladder, urethra or ureter. Surgery may be necessary to remove them although this could cause them to grow back.
A Cytourethroscopy or cytoscopy is typically ordered to get a closer look at the lower part of the urinary tract which includes the prostate, urethra, bladder neck and bladder itself. Usually this helps detect urinary tract problems or whether prostate problems requiring surgery are present.
Other problems that may be detected following a cystoscopy include bladder cancer, interstitial cystitis and urinary tract narrowing or tumors. Some visual changes that may be detected in the lining of the urinary tract itself may include tumors, holes in the urethra, ballooning or puffing out at the lower end of the ureter and diverticula (which are sacs that form because of holes in the urethra).
Estimated Costs for Cystoscopy Bladder Testing