What is Cystoscopy?

Cystoscopy is a surgical procedure predominantly used for diagnostic purposes. The goal is to allow visualization and evaluation of the lower urinary and genital tract in male and female dogs. It is used as an early detection and diagnostic measure, particularly when preliminary diagnostic measures such as blood work and radiographs have failed to yield a result. It is most frequently used when dogs suffer from recurrent urinary infections. However, occasionally it is also used to administer some treatment modalities with cystoscopic guidance. It is a relatively common procedure performed by a vet or specialist at a local veterinary hospital. 

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Cystoscopy Procedure in Dogs

Before a cystoscopy takes place, at least one visit to the vet will be needed to establish there is an infection or a need for a cystoscopy. A cystoscopy could take place within a few days or weeks of initial visits. The procedure itself will be as follows:

  • The dog is anesthetized intravenously.
  • The bladder is filled with sterile saline and distended, allowing the scope to enter. 
  • A flexible optic instrument will be inserted in the urinary tract for male dogs, a rigid optical instrument will be used on female dogs (no incision is required).
  • The scope is placed through the urethra to obtain a visual of the bladder and urethra.
  • A video recording is often taken.
  • Biopsies of tissues can also be taken.
  • If bladder stones are found, they can then be removed with grasping forceps.

The entire procedure will take between thirty minutes and one hour. 

Efficacy of Cystoscopy in Dogs

Cystoscopy is an extremely effective diagnostic method. It allows a magnified view of the urinary tract and is nearly always effective in doing just that. It is minimally invasive and requires no external incision, making it both a popular and efficient method used by many vets. Due to being minimally invasive, it also leaves the dog with no permanent effects. 

There are alternatives to cystoscopy. Analysis of the urine can be taken instead, as can radiographs and ultrasonography. However all three alternatives are not as informative and accurate as a cystoscopy. They do not give the vet a clear view of the infected area or allow access to treat any problem within the urinary tract. Hence it is common practice for cystoscopy to be performed when the aforementioned methods fail to give an accurate diagnosis. 

Cystoscopy Recovery in Dogs

Due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure dogs usually recover swiftly. They tend to either go home the same evening or the following day. Some dogs may suffer minimal discomfort, but after a day or two should be back to full health and participating in their normal activities. Some dogs may experience haematuria (blood in the urine); this should pass in a few days. No ongoing maintenance will be required as a result of the cystoscopy itself.

A follow-up appointment is likely within a week or two of the procedure to review the results of the cystoscopy and decide on a course of action. If the cystoscopy has been used to remove bladder stones, at least one further appointment will be required to ensure the treatment was a success.

Cost of Cystoscopy in Dogs

There are a number of costs associated with a cystoscopy. The whole procedure will likely cost as follows.

  • Between $50-$125 for an initial appointment with the vet.
  • The anesthetic itself will cost between $75 and $150.
  • The procedure itself will vary in cost depending on the experience of the vet. It could cost anywhere from $200 to $450.
  • It could cost up to $250 to keep the dog in overnight at the veterinary hospital if required.
  • A further $50-$125 will be needed for each follow-up appointment required.

Cystoscopy is a relatively inexpensive procedure. To have radiographs, ultrasonography, or urine tests done may cost a similar amount or slightly less, but they are not as accurate or as informative. Cystoscopy is more effective and remains an affordable option for most dog owners. 

Dog Cystoscopy Considerations

There are few risks associated with a cystoscopy. There are the short-term implications of difficulty urinating for a few days post procedure, due to inflammation of the urinary tract. There is also the possibility of haematuria to consider, as well as a risk of the dog developing a urinary tract infection. However, these are all short term risks, none of which will have a damaging long-term effect. There is the possibility of the dog having further urinary infections or bladder stones in the future, and then a cystoscopy could be required again. But, that is not something to worry about, it is safe, extremely effective, highly accurate, minimally invasive and affordable.

Cystoscopy Prevention in Dogs

Cystoscopies are most commonly used to diagnose and help treat urinary tract infections. Fortunately, there are a number of straightforward measures owners can take to help prevent infections developing. 

Firstly, encourage the dog to drink more water. Water will help flush out infections as well as making it harder for them to develop. Supplementing the dog’s diet with vitamin B, as well as garlic, mushrooms and probiotics may help stave off urinary tract infections.

It is also prudent to avoid certain foods. Asparagus, spinach and dairy products have all been known to aggravate urinary tract infections and if your dog suffers recurring infections, these should be avoided as much as possible. All of the above mentioned measures will be effective preventative measures to a greater extent, particularly ensuring the dog drinks plenty of water. 

To prevent bladder stones, another condition often associated with cystoscopies, you should follow much of the same advice. Particularly increasing water consumption and altering the diet. On top of those measures, monitoring the pH levels of the dog’s urine may also help. Bacterial infections tend to make the urine more alkaline, increasing the chance of struvite crystals forming. If the level increases above 7.0, the dog is in danger of developing bladder stones. Monitoring their pH levels, changing the diet, and increasing water consumption will all be significant in preventing the onset of bladder stones in your dog.