Reduction of Pain during Flexible Cystoscopy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Urol. 2019 Dec;202(6):1136-1142. doi: 10.1097/JU.0000000000000399. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Purpose: The BCAN (Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network) Patient Survey Network identified pain during intravesical procedures as a research priority for patients. Although intraurethral lidocaine is the standard of care in this setting, evidence of its use is equivocal. We systematically reviewed studies of interventions to reduce discomfort during cystoscopy and intravesical therapy of bladder cancer. We performed a meta-analysis of interventions using available randomized, controlled trials.

Materials and methods: Search terms derived from the key questions were incorporated into the literature search constructed by a research librarian and the English medical literature from 1990 to 2017 was accessed. The initial search yielded 626 potential studies and the final review incorporated 62. We combined 12 trials into a meta-analysis with a random effects model of the efficacy of intraurethral lidocaine vs plain lubricant to reduce pain during flexible cystoscopy as measured on a 10-point visual analogue scale.

Results: Data from 12 randomized controlled trials in a total of 1,549 patients were included in the final intraurethral lidocaine meta-analysis. The standardized mean difference between visual analogue scale pain scores in patients who underwent flexible cystoscopy with intraurethral lidocaine and plain lubricant was -0.22 (95% CI -0.39--0.05). Evidence was insufficient to evaluate other interventions to mitigate the discomfort of invasive bladder procedures.

Conclusions: Intraurethral lidocaine provides statistically significant pain reduction in men who undergo flexible cystoscopy, particularly with a longer dwell time. The evidence was insufficient for other tested interventions. A prospective study is needed to further clarify interventions to decrease patient discomfort during cystoscopy and other intravesical procedures in a diverse population.

Keywords: administration; cystoscopy; intravesical; lidocaine; pain; procedural; urinary bladder neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Cystoscopy*
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine