Rigid Cystoscopy (female)

This webpage will give you information about a rigid cystoscopy (for women). If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a rigid cystoscopy?

A rigid cystoscopy is a procedure to check for any problems in your bladder using a rigid fibre-optic telescope (cystoscope). Sometimes certain problems with the bladder and urinary tubes can be treated at the same time.


It may be recommended if you are getting blood in your urine, repeated infections or have an irritable bladder (a sudden and uncontrolled urge to pass urine).

Are there any alternatives to a rigid cystoscopy?

A scan may give some information about the cause of the problem. It is possible to have a flexible cystoscopy that only needs an anaesthetic jelly. However, certain problems with the bladder and urinary tubes cannot be treated with a flexible cystoscopy.

What does the procedure involve?

A rigid cystoscopy is usually performed under a general or spinal anaesthetic and usually takes less than half an hour.

Your doctor will pass the cystoscope into your bladder through your urethra (see figure 1).

Cross-section of the female pelvic region showing a rigid cystoscopy

Figure 1 - Cross-section of the female pelvic region showing a rigid cystoscopy


They will use the cystoscope to look for any problems in the lining of your bladder and perform biopsies if needed.


If your doctor finds a small growth, it may be possible to remove it using the cystoscope.

What complications can happen?

  • Bleeding 
  • Infection
  • Narrowing of the urethra
  • Making a hole in the bladder

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day, after you have recovered from the anaesthetic and passed urine.

You should be able to go back to work the day after the cystoscopy unless you are told otherwise.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

A member of the healthcare team will tell you what was found during the cystoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.


A rigid cystoscopy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if there is a problem with your bladder.


Author: Mr John Lemberger FRCS and Mr Scott Donnellan FRACS

Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM 

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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