- Health

What is a cystoscopy test for?

            Have you ever felt grateful to have a healthy bladder system? Imagine if you have problems with it, you probably will have a difficult time passing urine comfortably. Although, at times we do wish the bladder can follow our own instruction especially when we are left with no choice when the public restroom is full or had to wait a long time for a toilet break. Getting regular health screening can help to identify early on if you have risk or chances of having health problems. One of the tests used to evaluate the bladder is a cystoscopy test.

            Before we understand more on cystoscopy tests, it would be better to know a bit about the urinary system in general. The urinary system is a function to filter blood and produce urine as the body waste. The urinary system helps to maintain balance fluid and salt or electrolytes such as potassium and sodium in blood. It also plays a role in maintaining blood pressure. It consists of kidney, ureter, bladder and urethra. A normal urine which is pale straw or transparent yellow colour indicates a person with a healthy urinary system.

            The bladder is a triangle-shaped organ located in the lower abdomen. It is held by ligaments that are attached to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder relaxes and expands to store urine, and contract and flatten to empty urine through the urethra. Typical healthy adult bladder can store up to 500 mL of urine in women and 700 mL in men. The need to urinate can be felt as early when the bladder has between 200 to 350 mL urine. The bladder muscle tightens to squeeze urine out of the bladder while the sphincter muscle relaxes to allow urine exiting the bladder through the urethra.

            Cystoscopy test is a procedure that uses a cystoscope to get a clear and close look inside of the urethra and bladder. Cystoscope is a thin tube with a light and a lens or small video camera on the end. There are 2 main types of cystoscopes which are flexible and rigid. During the test, a urologist fills the bladder with fluid. This helps to get detailed images of the urethra and bladder linings that can be seen on a computer monitor.

            There are a number of reasons that make a person need a cystoscopy test. Below are common one:

  • To look for causes for bladder problems presented with symptoms or signs such as difficulty urinating or presence of blood in urine.
  • To look at the abnormal area seen on imaging tests such as CT scan.
  • To take biopsy samples from the bladder or urethra suspected of cancer.
  • As a means of treatment to treat some problems in the bladder such as removal of a small tumour in the bladder or removal of stone in the bladder.

            Those who need to go through a cystoscopy procedure might be worried about what to do or what to prepare. Here are what to expect and to be done before and after the procedure:

  • Before the test- Patients need to let their healthcare provider know if they are on medicines or supplements. Depending on the kind of anaesthesia for the test, patients might be asked to stop eating or drinking for at least several hours before the procedure. Do make sure to follow all instructions by doctor or nurse. Patients might want to arrange for a ride home after the procedure since anaesthesia may make them dizzy and be dangerous for them to drive home on their own.
  • After the test- Patients do need to expect their urethra may be sore and a burning feeling may be felt for up to 48 hours. Patients might find a small amount of blood in urine at first but it should go away within 12 to 24 hours after the test. Patients might also urinate more frequently in the first 24 hours. Once a patient reaches home, they are recommended to drink more water each hour for a few hours after the procedure. Patients may want to consider taking a warm bath to relieve the burning feeling. Using a warm and damp washcloth over the urethral opening can help ease the discomfort. Patients are often prescribed pain relief and antibiotics to be taken for a few days.

            While cystoscopy procedure itself is safe in general and does not cause problems after the procedure, patient should take serious note and get urgent medical advice if they are unable to urinate while feeling the bladder is full, burning or painful sensation more than 2 days, presence of bright red urine or blood clots in urine, severe discomfort and fever. It is important for patients to always follow all specific instructions given and understand when to call a doctor.

            In essence, a cystoscopy test is a common procedure to evaluate the bladder and urethra. There are a number of reasons why a cystoscopy test is done and best for patients to understand well why they need to go through the procedure. Following all advice from doctors can help reduce the risk or complications that could arise after the procedure and helps to ensure the test is done smoothly.

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