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A cystoscopy is a procedure that allows a urologist to look at a patient's lower urinary tract. This procedure is performed using a cystoscope, a tube-like medical device with a camera on the end. Doctors can perform this procedure using a flexible cystoscope or a rigid cystoscope. During a rigid cystoscopy, a doctor also can take a biopsy, if necessary, which is not an option during a flexible cystoscopy. A rigid cystoscopy can be a little more painful and invasive, so it is always performed under general anesthesia.
Doctors have the ability to view and examine the urethra and bladder during a rigid cystoscopy. This procedure may be necessary to help diagnose patients with chronic pelvic pain, to check for bladder cancer, to evaluate chronic bladder infections or to look for urethral abnormalities in patients who have trouble urinating or often have blood in their urine. Many patients can have a rigid cystoscopy done as an outpatient surgery. When a biopsy is done, a doctor may recommend a one-night stay in the hospital.
When a patient is being prepared for a rigid cystoscopy, the patient will lie on his or her back with the legs spread wide and the knees raised. This position is similar to the way a woman is examined at a gynecologist's office. Once the patient is put under anesthesia, it typically takes a doctor only about 30 minutes to do the procedure.
A patient may feel groggy and tired after a rigid cystoscopy. Patients should bring a friend or family member to drive them home. Pain or burning with urination for a day or two after the procedure is to be expected. Most doctors will prescribe pain killers for a patient to use during recovery.
There aren't any major risk factors or side effects that go along with a rigid cystoscopy. Some patients may have a small amount of blood in their urine if a biopsy was performed. This should only be temporary. It also is possible to get a urinary tract infection (UTI) as a complication of a cystoscopy. If a patient is prone to getting UTIs, a doctor may send the patient home with an antibiotic as a preventive measure.
It is recommended that patients drink a lot of fluids after a rigid cystoscopy to help get their urinary flow back to normal. Females also may want to take a warm bath or hold a heating pad to their vaginal area if they are experiencing urethral pain. If a biopsy was performed, a doctor will set a follow-up appointment to go over test results.