Biopsy - Bladder

This procedure involves the removal of a suspicious sample of bladder tissue to check for the presence of abnormal, or cancerous, cells.

This procedure involves the removal of a suspicious sample of bladder tissue to check for the presence of abnormal, or cancerous, cells.

A bladder biopsy is the removal of a suspicious sample of bladder tissue to check for the presence of abnormal, or cancerous, cells. It is usually done during a cystoscopy.

  • The bladder is a hollow organ that holds urine. The urethra is the tube urine goes through as it leaves the bladder and exits the body.
  • A cystoscopy is an exam of the bladder and urethra using a thin, lighted tube with a camera on the end (cystoscope).
  • The cystoscope is inserted into the urethra. It is then advanced into the bladder.

There are several factors that may increase your chance of developing bladder cancer.

  • Smoking - You are a smoker.
  • Chemical exposure - You work with certain chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
  • Chemotherapy - You have received a certain type of chemotherapy.
  • Radiation treatment - You have received radiation treatment for cervical cancer.
  • Chronic bladder infections - You have a history of frequent or long-term bladder infections.

At this time, there is no conclusive evidence that links artificial sweeteners and bladder cancer.

The symptoms of bladder cancer can also be caused by other common bladder conditions, such as a urinary tract infection. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Urine that is bloody
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Having to urinate frequently
  • Having to urinate urgently or quickly

As the cancer advances, other symptoms can develop. These symptoms can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Pain or tenderness in your bones
  • Inability to hold urine
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain

Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms. He or she will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination. Your provider may also recommend one of the following tests:

  • Urinalysis (urine test)
  • An intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • An examination of your bladder (cystoscopy) with removal of tissue for examination under a microscope (biopsy)

Your healthcare provider may recommend a cystoscopy and biopsy to determine if an abnormality is cancer. If the biopsy indicates you have bladder cancer, more testing (CT scan or MRI) may be needed.

The cystoscopy and biopsy will likely be performed in an operating room with medication to help you relax.

  • If you are a male, you will need to lie on your back for the exam. If you are a female you will need to lie on your back with your feet in stirrups. The position is the same as when you have a Pap smear or other vaginal exam.
  • You may experience some discomfort when the cystoscope is inserted and your bladder is filled with water or salt water. Although filling your bladder is uncomfortable, it is necessary to see the entire lining of the bladder.
  • You may experience a pinching sensation when a biopsy of abnormal tissue is taken.
  • There may be a small amount of blood in your urine after the test. It may also hurt to urinate. This discomfort should clear up after you urinate a few times. Drinking four to six glasses or more of water a day after the test may help.

Prior to the procedure, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask about specific instructions to follow before and after the procedure. These include:

  • Medications you should not take before the procedure, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your procedure
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the procedure

Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of bladder cancer. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a bladder biopsy?

  • What is my diagnosis and reason for the procedure? Are there any alternatives? What are the benefits and risks of each?
  • What are the possible complications for this procedure?
  • What happens if I do not go through with the procedure?
  • What is your experience in doing this type of procedure? What is your complication rate?
  • Is there any special preparation for the procedure? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • Will I need anesthesia? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will I feel after the procedure? Will I have to modify my activity?

Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.

After your procedure, you should know what you had done, what medication was given and what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider after discharge. Make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.


Also known as:

Bladder Test
Bladder Biopsy
Biopsy Bladder
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