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Cystoscopy is a diagnostic tool used to examine your pet’s urinary tract – typically dogs and cats.

A cystoscope is used, which is a rigid endoscope with a built-in light and camera that allows the veterinarian to see inside the bladder and urethra.

How Does Cystoscopy Work?

Cystoscopy is a endoscopy procedure primarily used for diagnostic purposes (overseeing urethra and bladder) as well as interventional purposes (removal of small stones etc).

The aim is to allow visualisation and evaluation of the urinary tract and lower genitalia in male and female dogs.

It is used as a means of early detection and diagnosis, especially when preliminary diagnostic measures such as blood tests and X-rays are unsuccessful.

It is most commonly used when dogs have recurrent UTIs. However, it is also sometimes used to provide some modality of cystoscopy-guided treatment.

The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia and is used to diagnose a range of conditions affecting the urinary tract, including bladder stones, tumours, and blockages.

Benefits Of Cystoscopy

Cystoscopy has several advantages for pets:


Cystoscopy provides a direct and clear view of the inside of the bladder and urethra, this allows us to accurately diagnose conditions such as tumours, blockages, and bladder stones.


By easily visualising the inside of the bladder and urethra, cystoscopy can help identify problems early on, before they become more serious. 


Cystoscopy provides the opportunity for us to take biopsy samples if needed, which can be used to identify specific conditions affecting the urinary tract.


Unlike traditional surgical procedures, Cystoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require incisions or extensive tissue damage.


We can use the cystoscope to retrieve foreign bodies from the bladder and urethra, which can cause discomfort and health issues for your pet.


Cystoscopy is performed under general anaesthesia and is minimally invasive which means your pet will recover faster.

Cystoscopy Procedure

Before a cystoscopy occurs, at least one visit to the veterinarian is required to determine that an infection is present or that a cystoscopy is needed.

The procedure consists of:

Your pet is anesthetised intravenously.

The bladder is filled with sterile saline and distended, allowing the scope to enter.

A flexible optic instrument will be inserted in the urinary tract for male pets, and a rigid optical instrument will be used on female pets (no incision is required).

The scope is placed through the urethra to obtain a visual of the bladder and urethra.

A video recording is often taken.

Biopsies of tissues can also be taken.

If bladder stones are found, they can then be removed with grasping forceps.


When Would Cystoscopy Be Needed?

Cystoscopy could be helpful to determine the cause of:

Blood in the urine
Urine leakage (urinary incontinence)
Urinary blockages
Complicated urinary tract infections
When abnormalities in the bladder have been noted on radiographs (x-ray) or ultrasound

Efficacy Of Cystoscopy

Cystoscopy is an extremely effective diagnostic method.
It allows a magnified view of the urinary tract and is almost always effective in doing so.

It is minimally invasive and requires no external incision, making it a popular and effective method. Because it is minimally invasive, it also leaves no permanent consequences for your pet.

There are alternatives to cystoscopy. 

Instead, a urinalysis may be performed, as well as X-rays and ultrasounds. However, all three alternatives are not as informative and accurate as cystoscopy. They do not give the veterinarian a clear view of the infected area or allow access to treat any problems in the urinary tract.

Therefore, it is common to perform a cystoscopy when the aforementioned methods do not provide an accurate diagnosis.


Is cystoscopy a high-risk surgery?

A cystoscopy is usually a very safe procedure and serious complications are rare. Speak to us if you have any concerns.

Is the use cystoscopy limited to size, gender or type of animal?

Cystoscopes can be either rigid (used in female animals) or flexible (used in male dogs). Cystoscopy is challenging in male cats (due to the very small urethra) but can be done with a very small scope or by accessing the bladder with a small surgical procedure and then the urethra is visualised through the bladder. 

Cystoscopy Recovery

Due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, pets usually recover quickly.
They tend to return home the same evening. Some pets may experience minimal discomfort, but after a day or two they should be fine and performing normal activities.
Some animals may have hematuria (hematuria); This will pass in a few days. There is no need for ongoing maintenance after cystoscopy.

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