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Cystoscopy (flexible)

A flexible cystoscopy is a routine procedure to diagnose and treat problems in your bladder using a flexible telescope (also known as a cystoscope)

Doctor points at a medical model of a bladder to explain what he's going to look for with the flexible cystoscopy procedure
There are two main types of cystoscopy: a flexible cystoscopy and a rigid cystoscopy.

Both types of procedure involve the use of a thin tube with a light and camera at one end of it called a cystoscope. This is inserted in your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your body) and up into your bladder to examine it. This cystoscope relays images to a monitor that your consultant can refer to as they perform the procedure. A cystoscopy can help diagnose and treat many conditions that affect your bladder, including bladder stones, recurrent UTIs, and pelvic floor dysfunction.

This page explains everything you need to know about having a flexible cystoscopy. We also have a page on rigid cystoscopy.

A flexible cystoscopy with Circle Health Group starts from £2,100.*

Our flexible cystoscopy package prices include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments.

We offer flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. Our fixed-term pay-monthly plans are available in terms of 10 months to five years, with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, a flexible cystoscopy will often be covered by your policy. Speak directly to your insurance provider to find out.

*This is a guide price for patients who are paying for their own treatment. The actual cost of your treatment will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

A cystoscopy is a highly effective way of investigating a broad range of bladder problems. You might benefit from a cystoscopy if you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Recurrent UTIs
  • Pelvic pain
  • Blood in your pee
  • Blood in your poo
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Bladder control problems

These symptoms can be caused by various problems, including:

Cancerous tumours

When cancer cells form a lump or growth, they are called cancerous or malignant tumours. A cancerous tumour can grow and spread to other parts of your body. The main treatments for malignant tumours are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy (or a combination of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy).

Blue light cystoscopy for suspected bladder cancer

A cystoscopy is typically performed using 'white light', however this can lead to some bladder cancers being missed. We offer a procedure called a blue light cystoscopy which has been shown to have better results at detecting bladder cancer. 

Bladder stones

Bladder stones are lumps of minerals that can build up inside your bladder when it is not completely empty of urine. They can cause distressing symptoms such as lower abdominal pain, difficulty peeing, and blood in your urine. Bladder stones can be treated with surgery performed with a cystoscope. Your urologist will use stone-crushing devices, lasers, or ultrasound to break up the stones before they are removed from your bladder.

A bladder fistula

A bladder fistula is when an abnormal opening forms between your bladder and another organ or your skin. The most common types of bladder fistulas occur between your bladder and bowel, or between your bladder and vagina. Fistulas are usually caused by damage to the organs affected. A bladder fistula is typically treated with surgery to remove the damaged part of your bladder.

We're here to help

Living with persistent bladder problems can make simple, everyday tasks painful and challenging. But it doesn't have to be this way.

At Circle Health Group, we offer a range of treatment options for bladder issues. To find out more about our services, you can call a member of our team on 0808 296 4745 or book an appointment with a consultant online.

There is no preparation as such for a flexible cystoscopy. You can usually eat and drink as normal before a flexible cystoscopy, and take your medication as normal on the run-up to the procedure. You can discuss this in more detail with your consultant.

You might be asked to pee into a container so it can be checked for an infection. The procedure might be delayed if you have a urine infection.

Before the procedure starts, you'll be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on one of our hospital beds with your legs apart. This is generally the only preparation you need for a flexible cystoscopy.

To begin, your urologist will ask that you lie down on a couch with your legs apart. They will place a white sheet over the lower half of your body. Your nurse will apply a local anaesthetic gel to your urethra to numb it and help the cystoscope move along it more easily.

Your urologist will then insert the cystoscope into your urethra and gently move it towards your bladder. They might use a special instrument to pump water into your bladder to see inside it more clearly. A cystoscopy should not be painful, but it can feel slightly uncomfortable. You might feel like you need to pee during the procedure, but this will only last for a few minutes. You can tell your consultant if you feel any discomfort.

You will be able to see the images of your bladder displayed on a monitor. If your urologist finds a small growth or stone during the procedure, they might be able to remove it there and then.

After a few minutes, your urologist will remove the cystoscope and explain what they have seen on the monitor. They might be able to diagnose you straight away, or they might need more time to examine the images taken during the procedure.

A flexible cystoscopy usually takes around five minutes to perform.

You can leave hospital on the same day as the cystoscopy, but you will need to ensure you can empty your bladder in hospital before returning home.

There is no recovery timeline as such after a cystoscopy. You can return to normal everyday activities (including exercise, sex and work) the day after the procedure. You might experience some side effects from the procedure, such as:

  • A burning or stinging sensation when you pee
  • Blood in your pee, which might turn it slightly pink
  • The urge to pee more

These symptoms should last a day or two and can be managed by drinking plenty of water and taking painkillers such as paracetamol to reduce discomfort.

Can a flexible cystoscopy diagnose cancer?

Yes, it is the key diagnostic procedure performed to diagnose bladder cancer. But having a cystoscopy to examine your symptoms does not necessarily mean you have bladder cancer.

How long are you in hospital for a flexible cystoscopy?

You should only be in hospital for a maximum of two hours for a flexible cystoscopy. The procedure itself should only take around five to ten minutes.

Will I need a catheter after a flexible cystoscopy?

Not always, but some people experience urinary retention (difficulty peeing) after a flexible cystoscopy. In this case, you might need a catheter, which empties your bladder into a drainage bag, before you leave hospital.

Is a flexible cystoscopy painful?

A flexible cystoscopy should not be painful, but it might feel a little uncomfortable and give you the sensation of needing to pee. You will have a local anaesthetic gel applied to your urethra before a flexible cystoscopy to numb your urethra and reduce discomfort.

How long does it take to recover from a cystoscopy?

You can return to your normal everyday activities straight after a flexible cystoscopy, though you might want to wait a day or two if you are experiencing any symptoms (these usually subside within two days). Symptoms include a burning sensation when peeing, and some blood in your urine.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and Consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, Consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in August 2022. Next review due August 2025.

  1. What happens - Cystoscopy, NHS
  2. Flexible Cystoscopy – A Guide to the Test, Northern Lincolnshire and Google NHS Foundation Trust
  3. What is a Flexible Cystoscopy?, Milton Keynes University Hospital
  4. Flexible Cystoscopy, NHS Hull University Teaching Hospitals
  5. Flexible cystoscopy, NHS University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire

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