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Cystoscopy in children

Patient information A-Z


This information leaflet provides information on a cystoscopy procedure and includes information on pre-operative and post-operative care.

What is a cystoscopy?

Cystoscopy involves a tiny fibre optic camera inside a narrow tube (called a ‘cystoscope’) being passed down the urethra (the urethra is the tube which carries urine from the bladder and then out of the body). In children a cystoscopy is undertaken under general anaesthetic.

The cystoscopy allows your child’s doctor to visually inspect the urethra, the inside of the bladder and the ureters. Minor procedures can be carried out via the cystoscope and, if required, a biopsy (small piece of tissue) can be taken for testing.

The urinary system: kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra
The urinary system

Before admission to hospital

Pre-operative assessment

You will be asked to complete a ‘health screening questionnaire’ when your child is added to the waiting list; this will be completed immediately after your appointment if your child was seen in one of our clinics at Addenbrooke’s or over the telephone if your child was reviewed in one of our outlying clinics.

Urine test

A urine specimen should be taken to your general practitioner (GP) for testing one week before the procedure to ensure your child does not have a urine infection.

Purchasing suitable painkillers

It is important that you purchase some children’s painkillers such as paracetamol (eg Calpol) and ibuprofen before admission to hospital so that you have these available at home after discharge.

If your child becomes unwell

If your child has a cold, cough or illness such as chickenpox the operation will need to be postponed to avoid complications. Please telephone us on the telephone number at the end of this leaflet.

Starvation plan

Your child will not be able to eat and drink before the operation. Specific advice about this will be given in the letter of confirmation sent to you in the post.

What happens when my child is admitted to hospital?

You will be asked to bring your child to one of our children’s wards on the day of surgery. When you arrive, you will be seen by the nursing staff, and a doctor and an anaesthetist (if not seen by these at the pre-operative assessment clinic).

A parent will be able to accompany your child when she/he goes to the anaesthetic room to go to sleep for the operation and can also be present in the recovery area when she/he wakes.

What happens during the cystoscopy?

Once your child is anaesthetised, the cystoscope is lubricated and inserted into the urethra and gently passed up into the bladder. Sterile saline (salty water) is used to fill the bladder, via the cystoscope, and allow a clear view.

What are the problems, complications and risks of cystoscopy?

  • Seeing blood in the urine (called haematuria) and having some discomfort (a stinging sensation) during the passing of urine is common after a cystoscopy. Encouraging your child to drink well helps to ease these symptoms which should resolve after one to two days.
  • Although antibiotics are given at the time of the procedure, children might develop a urine infection which requires a course of antibiotics.

What are the alternatives?

A cystoscopy can give a good assessment of your child’s condition compared to other tests alone. The only alternative is for your child to have an operation to examine the inside of the bladder. A cystoscopy is quicker and has fewer risks and complications than an operation.

How long will my child stay in hospital for?

Most children will be able to go home on the same day as the procedure after drinking, eating and passing urine.

Discharge advice - How do I look after my child at home?

Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids (water or weak squash). If your child develops a fever, increased pain, any difficulty passing urine or any other signs of a urine infection, you should contact your GP or nurse specialist.


You will be advised when your child will next be reviewed prior to discharge home. The timing of the follow-up will depend on why your child had the cystoscopy. Review is usually held in the children’s outpatient clinic at Addenbrooke's Hospital but may be possible either at one of our outlying clinics or via your GP. You will be informed at the time of discharge where and when your child’s review is to be held.


During your child’s hospital visits your child will need to be examined to help diagnose and to plan care. Examination may take place before, during and after treatment is performed by trained members of staff and will always be explained to you beforehand. A chaperone is a separate member of staff who is present during the examination. The role of the chaperone is to provide practical assistance with the examination and to provide support to the child, family member/ carer and to the person examining.

Whom shall I contact if I have any queries, concerns or questions?

For clinical queries

The clinical nurse specialists: (Mon to Fri 08:00 to 18:00)

Telephone: 01223 586973

Email the paediatric surgery CNS's.

The ward you were on: ………………………………………

For booking enquiries

The booking coordinators: 01223 256276 or 01223 348188

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151