Modern, advanced diagnostic procedure to look at parts of the urinary system.
The bladder is a muscular bag which, when full, is about the size of a grapefruit. The bladder stores urine which reaches it through the ureters - the tubes which connect the kidneys to the bladder.
When you pass water, the muscle wall squeezes the urine out into the urethra. In women, the urethra is only about 2.5 cm long. In men, it is much longer and follows an S-shaped course from the bladder outlet, where it passes through the prostate gland. Both men and women have muscular valves called sphincters which control the flow of urine. For women, the sphincter muscle lies around the majority of the short urethra while in men the main sphincter is just below the prostate gland.
During your flexible cystoscopy, a tube containing a telescope is passed down the urethra so that the consultant can examine the inside of the bladder. It is usual to look at the urethra itself as well.
Why flexible cystoscopy?
The design of a flexible cystoscope allows it to bend freely, adjusting itself to fit the curving male urethra. This allows it to pass through painlessly, avoiding the need for a general anaesthetic. The examination can be done with you lying flat in a comfortable position.
Some urinary symptoms are due to problems in the bladder or urethra. Sometimes the cause will be clear from X-rays or tests of the blood or urine, but often the only way your consultant can determine the diagnosis is by looking inside with a cystoscope.
Is the flexible cystoscope used only to examine the bladder?
Only painless operations can be done during flexible cystoscopy as you will be awake. It is possible to take a biopsy from the lining of the bladder without discomfort. Tubes or fine catheters may be passed into the ureters' to take X-rays of the kidneys.
What are the after-effects of flexible cystoscopy?
Most patients have no trouble after a flexible cystoscopy. A mild burning on passing urine usually gets better after a day or so. Drinking extra water can help. A small amount of bleeding is common especially if a biopsy specimen has been taken.
There are advantages to being awake for your flexible cystoscopy. If you are getting more discomfort than you think you should have then tell your consultant. If you have any questions, ask them.
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