Risks of a cystoscopy 

A cystoscopy is usually a safe procedure and serious complications are rare.

Occasionally, there may be problems passing urine or an infection may develop.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the urethra, bladder or kidneys. Symptoms of a UTI can include:

  • a burning sensation when urinating that lasts longer than two days
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • unpleasant smelling urine
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain in your lower back or side

Contact your GP or hospital staff as soon as possible if you have any of the above symptoms. Antibiotics can be used to successfully treat most UTIs.

Problems passing urine

Some people find it difficult to pass urine after having a cystoscopy. This is known as urinary retention. Urinary retention after a cystoscopy is uncommon in women, but men with pre-existing urination problems are at increased risk.

Urinary retention may be a sign that your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) or your prostate (in men) is swollen, so you should contact staff at the hospital where you had the cystoscopy if you experience this problem.

In some cases, a thin tube called a catheter may need to be temporarily inserted through your urethra to allow urine to drain.

Bleeding and bladder damage

Mild bleeding that lasts for a few days is common after having a cystoscopy, particularly if a biopsy (tissue sample) was taken during the procedure. However, in rare cases, bleeding may be a sign that your bladder has been damaged.

Seek immediate medical advice if you have persistent or severe bleeding after a cystoscopy, because you may need to have a temporary catheter fitted or surgery to repair any damage to your bladder.

Page last reviewed: 29/04/2015

Next review due: 29/04/2017