Cystoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows direct examination of the urinary tract, particularly the bladder, the urethra, and the openings to the ureters. Cystoscopy can assist in identifying problems with the urinary tract, such as early signs of cancer, infection, strictures (narrowing), obstruction, and bleeding.
A long, flexible, lighted tube, called a cystoscope, is inserted into the urethra (the tube that allows urine to pass outside the body) and advanced into the bladder. In addition to allowing visualization of the internal urethra and bladder, the cystoscope enables the doctor to irrigate, suction, and access these structures with surgical instruments. The urologist can also instill substances into the bladder using a cystoscope. During a cystoscopy, the doctor may remove tissue for further examination (a procedure called a biopsy) and possibly treat any problems that may be detected.