Evaluating the Safety of Performing Flexible Cystoscopy When Urinalysis Suggests Presence of “Infection”: Results of a Prospective Clinical Study in 2350 patients

Matthew Trail, Julia Cullen, Emma Fulton, Faye Clayton, Ewan McGregor, Faye McWilliam, Lachlan Dick, Pota Kalima, Roland Donat, Paramananthan Mariappan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is significant underutilisation of allocated health service resources when a scheduled flexible cystoscopy (FC) is cancelled because a pre-cystoscopy urinalysis (PCU) suggests “infection”, despite patients being asymptomatic for urinary tract infection (UTI). Objective: To evaluate the risk of UTI or urinary sepsis when FC is performed in asymptomatic patients with a PCU positive for leucocyte esterase and/or nitrites. Design, setting, and participants: A prospective cohort study was conducted in a high-volume UK centre recruiting all patients undergoing outpatient FC. Intervention: A protocol was developed to guide response to PCU performed prior to FC, which was performed regardless of the result, unless patients were symptomatic for UTI. All patients completed a questionnaire to identify risk factors and were followed up via a telephone survey and a review of electronic clinical records. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Post-FC UTI was defined as hospital admission with UTI/urinary sepsis or if patients were symptomatic for UTI with receipt of antibiotics or with positive urine culture and sensitivity. An analysis of the association was performed. Results and limitations: An initial pilot study confirmed the safety and feasibility of our protocol. Of 1996 patients, 136 (6.8%) developed a UTI by our definition, with 51 (2.6%) having a culture-proven infection. The risk was higher in patients with a positive PCU (odds ratio [OR] 1.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07–2.40, p = 0.02), history of UTI (OR 1.72, 95% CI = 1.09–2.73, p = 0.02), or a bladder tumour on FC (OR 2.22, 95% CI = 1.27–3.90, p = 0.005). No patient with a positive PCU developed urinary sepsis. The main limitation of this study was the lack of pre-protocol control. Conclusions: We observed a clinically low and acceptable risk of UTI, with no incidence of sepsis, when FC was performed in asymptomatic patients with a PCU suggesting “infection”. Routine cancellation of these patients is unnecessary and may worsen the burden on health service resources. Patient summary: We evaluated the safety of performing flexible cystoscopy when the urine dipstick on the day suggested presence of an “infection” but the patient had no symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI). Our study in over 2000 patients demonstrated a low incidence of UTI, and none of these patients developed sepsis. We therefore recommend that flexible cystoscopy should not be cancelled automatically on the basis of the dipstick result alone, as it might delay a time-sensitive crucial diagnosis. Take Home Message: We evaluated the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) following flexible cystoscopy (within the framework of a protocol) in asymptomatic patients, whose pre-cystoscopy urinalysis suggested “infection”. Our results from the largest prospective real-world study revealed a low and acceptable risk of UTI and that it was safe to perform flexible cystoscopy when the urinalysis suggested “infection”, whilst providing options to prescribe antibiotics in more vulnerable patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Urology Open Science
Early online date26 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Antibiotic prophylaxis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cystoscopy
  • Microbiology
  • Protocol
  • Safety
  • Surveillance
  • Urinalysis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urosepsis


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