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MSD Manual

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Paul H. Chung

, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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A doctor can diagnose some disorders of the bladder and urethra (for example, bladder tumors, stones in the bladder, benign prostatic enlargement) by looking through a flexible viewing tube (cystoscope, a type of endoscope). A cystoscope has a diameter about the size of a pencil, and about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of the scope are inserted into the urethra and bladder. Most cystoscopes are fiber-optic and contain a light source and a small camera, which allows the doctor to view the inside of the bladder and urethra. Many cystoscopes also contain tools that allow the doctor to obtain a sample (biopsy) of the bladder lining.

Cystoscopy can be done while a person is awake and causes only minor discomfort. The doctor usually inserts an anesthetic gel into the urethra before the procedure. Possible complications include minor bleeding and infection.

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