Cystoscopy is an examination of the inside of the bladder and urethra. The end of a thin tube called a cystoscope is inserted through the urethra (the tube linking the bladder with the outside) into the bladder, where the combination of light and magnification enables the doctor to observe any abnormalities, such as stones, tumours or disorders of the bladder lining.
In men, a cystoscope may be used in the investigation of cancer of the prostate. The man will be given an anaesthetic, general or local, depending on the circumstances, and the tiny tube will be gently guided up through the penis until it reaches the prostate, which is situated at the base of the bladder.
Small tumours or stones can often be removed by means of a special instrument inserted through the cystoscope, and if so there will be no need for surgery.
Fine tubes called catheters can be passed along a cystoscope and guided into each ureter (the tubes leading from the bladder up to the kidneys). This enables a specimen of urine to be obtained from each kidney so that the doctor can find out which one is diseased.