Biopsy at flexible cystoscopy: is it worthwhile?

Flexible cystoscopy is the gold standard for diagnosis and surveillance of bladder carcinoma. Most flexible cystoscopes feature a working channel allowing for bladder biopsy and diathermy if a suspicious lesion is observed. However, the working channel permits only small instruments which limit the volume of material retrieved for histological analysis. There are no published standards for quality control of biopsy specimens taken at flexible cystoscopy. We reviewed the diagnostic yield of biopsies taken at flexible cystoscopy at our institution.

Theatre log books were retrospectively examined to identify cases of flexible cystoscopy where bladder biopsy was performed. Histopathology reports were reviewed. All biopsies were taken using single-use biopsy forceps, diameter 1.8 mm, open cup width 4.5 mm.

From January 2014 to December 2017, a total of 143 biopsies were performed. All biopsies were taken for suspicious lesions where the differential diagnosis included malignancy. Of the 143 samples taken, 27 biopsies showed evidence of malignancy, and 9 cases were high-grade urothelial cancer. A total of 16 samples were inadequate for any histological diagnosis. All remaining samples excluded malignancy within the sample provided. A histopathological diagnosis was provided for almost 89% of cases.

Approximately 18% of biopsies detected malignancy. While only small volumes of tissue are collected at flexible cystoscopy, these can help to distinguish malignancy from benign pathology. Our institution reports a non-diagnostic rate of approximately 11%, and in these cases, when there is still a suspicion of malignancy, a rigid cystoscopy and biopsy should be performed.

Irish journal of medical science. 2020 Jul 01 [Epub ahead of print]

Jody Khan, Mohamad Shariq Kamal, Frank T D'Arcy, Catherine Dowling

Department of Urology, University Hospital Galway, Newcastle Road, Galway, Ireland. ., Department of Urology, University Hospital Galway, Newcastle Road, Galway, Ireland.