When a patient complaining or urinary problems visits the doctors, the doctor will most likely use a cystoscope to see the inside of the patients bladder and urethra. This procedure is known as diagnostic cystoscopy.
The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. It’s through this tube that the cystoscope passes. The cystoscope has a tiny lens attached to a long tube through which the doctor can focus on the inner surfaces of the urinary tract. The image seen by the lens is passed up the tube typically via optical fibres (flexible glass fibres) to a viewing piece at the other end. Cystoscopes have a range of thicknesses and carry their own light source to illuminate the subject. Many cystoscopes have extra tubes to guide other instruments for surgical procedures to treat urinary problems.
There are two main types of cystoscopy – flexible and rigid – differing in the flexibility of the cystoscope. Flexible cystoscopy is carried out using local anaesthesia on both sexes. Typically, lidocaine/xylocaine gel (such as the brand name Instillagel) is used as an anaesthetic, instilled in the urethra. Rigid cystoscopy can be performed under the same conditions, but is generally carried out under general anaesthesia, particularly in male subjects, due to the pain caused by the probe.