Cystoscopy for Women  

A cystoscopy can be used to diagnose and treat certain urinary tract disorders.  
Many urinary tract disorders can be identified through cystoscopy. This procedure allows a physician to view the inside of a patient’s bladder and the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) using a cystoscope—a very thin, long tool with a camera on the end. Depending on the purpose of the procedure, a cystoscope may be flexible or more rigid.  

When Is a Cystoscopy Recommended? 

A physician may order a cystoscopy if a patient has symptoms such as:  

  • Blood in urine  
  • Persistent pelvic pain  
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Recurring urinary tract infections  

Specifically, a cystoscopy can help diagnose:  

  • Bladder stones  
  • Bladder control problems  
  • Urinary tract infections  
  • Urinary fistulas  
  • Urethral strictures  
  • Bladder or urethral cancer  

During a female cystoscopy procedure, special instruments can be used to excise small pieces of tissue for testing, administer medicine directly into the bladder or remove bladder stones and other abnormalities.  

What Does a Cystoscopy Involve?   

A cystoscopy is performed by a urologist—a physician who specializes in identifying and treating urinary tract conditions. Here’s what the procedure entails:  

  • A lubricated cystoscope is gently inserted into the urethra (located just above the vagina) and into the bladder.  
  • Sterile salt water is fed into the bladder through the cystoscope to increase the physician’s visibility.   
  • The physician examines internal structures and uses tiny instruments to collect tissue samples or remove abnormalities, if necessary.  

A cystoscopy is usually an outpatient procedure that is performed with local anesthesia to numb the urethra or lower body. For some patients, it may be performed on an inpatient basis under general anesthesia.  

What Can I Expect?     

A cystoscopy used solely for diagnostic purposes may only take about five minutes to complete. If the procedure is more involved, it might last closer to 30 minutes. You may be asked to take antibiotics before or after a cystoscopy to help prevent infection.  

Common side effects of cystoscopy for women include mild and temporary abdominal pain, burning during urination and small amounts of blood in urine. If these symptoms worsen or persist, promptly speak with your physician.   

Tampa General Hospital has a multidisciplinary team of experts, including urologists who routinely perform cystoscopies for women.