Bladder biopsy

Alternative names
Biopsy - bladder

Bladder biopsy involves the removal of a small piece of tissue from the bladder for examination.

How the test is performed

A bladder biopsy is usually performed as a part of a cystoscopy. If abnormalities of the bladder are found during this examination, or if a tumor is visible, a small portion of tissue is removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

How to prepare for the test

You must sign an informed consent form before you undergo a bladder biopsy. Usually you are asked to urinate just prior to the procedure. You may also be asked to take an antibiotic prior to the procedure.

Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

  • Infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • Toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • Preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • Schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • Adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel

There may be slight discomfort as the cystoscope is passed through your urethra into your bladder. You will feel an uncomfortable sensation - similar to a strong urge to urinate - when the fluid has filled your bladder.

You may feel a pinch during the biopsy, and a burning sensation when the blood vessels are cauterized (sealed to stop bleeding).

After the cystoscope is removed, your urethra may be sore and you may experience a burning sensation during urination for a day or two.

Why the test is performed
This test is most often performed to check for cancer of the bladder or urethra.

Normal Values
The bladder wall is smooth. The bladder is of a normal size, shape, and position. There are no obstructions, growths, or stones.

What abnormal results mean

The presence of carcinoma cells indicates bladder cancer. The type of cancer can be determined from the biopsy specimen.

Other abnormalities may include disorders such as a noncancerous cysts, ulcers, infection, and bladder diverticula.

What the risks are
There is some risk of urinary tract infection.

There is slight risk of excessive bleeding or rupturing of the bladder wall with the cystoscope or during biopsy.

Special considerations

A small amount of blood is usually passed in the urine shortly after this procedure. If the bleeding continues after the third time you urinate, contact your health care provider.

Contact your health care provider if you have pain, chills, or fever or if your urine output is lower than usual (oliguria).

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Simon D. Mitin, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.