What is a cystoscopy and ureteroscopy?

These are tests to look inside the bladder, ureter and renal pelvis. They are used to diagnose cancer of the urinary system. Both tests are usually done under a general anaesthetic. In most cases you can go home the same day.

In both tests, a doctor passes a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end into the opening of the urethra. In men, this is at the tip of the penis. In women, it is just above the vagina. During a cystoscopy, the tube is passed into the bladder. During a ureteroscopy, the tube is passed into the bladder and then moved further into the ureter or renal pelvis. 

The doctor can take samples of cells (biopsies) from any areas that look abnormal. They send the biopsies to a laboratory to be examined for signs of cancer. The doctor may also take a sample of urine (pee) from the renal pelvis to be tested for cancer cells.

Possible side effects

You may have blood in your urine for a few days after the test. You may also have some soreness or mild pain when you pass urine and in your tummy area or back for 1 or 2 days. If these side effects do not get better or you feel unwell or feverish, contact the hospital for advice, as you may have an infection.

Having a retrograde pyelography

Sometimes x-rays of the kidney and ureter are taken during a ureteroscopy. This is called retrograde pyelography. The doctor places a tube (catheter) into the ureter, then passes dye up the catheter to better show the ureter and renal pelvis on x-rays.