(Radical Bladder Removal, Partial Bladder Removal)
A cystectomy is a surgery to remove all or part of the bladder:
- A radical cystectomy removes all of the bladder, nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and nearby organs that may contain cancer cells.
- A partial cystectomy removes part of the bladder.
Reasons for a cystectomy include:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Loss of sexual function
- Fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity
- Damage to other organs
- Blockage of urine flow from the ureters to the bladder
- Nutrition problems, depending on the bowel segments used to create a way for urine to drain
- Blood clots
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Urinary incontinence
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Previous surgery in the abdomen or pelvis or
to the area increases your risk of complications.
You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection and laxatives to clean out the bowels.
The night before, you may be asked not to eat anything and to only drink clear liquids. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight or on the morning of the procedure. This includes avoiding clear liquids, coffee, tea, and water.
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, such as:
An incision will be made in the abdomen to expose the bladder. In a radical cystectomy, all blood vessels to the bladder will be cut. The bladder will then be removed along with nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and nearby organs that may contain cancer cells. In men, the prostate and glands that help produce semen will also be removed. In women, the uterus, ovaries, and, sometimes, part of the vagina will be removed.
The doctor will also need to create a new way for urine to be passed out of the body. A new bladder may be built using pieces of intestine. Or, an external bag may be attached to the abdomen.
In a partial cystectomy, only part of the bladder will be removed.
Kidneys, Ureters, and Bladder
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Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The usual length of stay is 5-12 days. The specific length of time will depend on your condition and the reason for surgery. Your doctor may also choose to keep you longer if complications occur.
- A stay in the intensive care unit may be needed.
- During surgery, a tube will be placed from the nose to the stomach. It will stay there for several days. Because you cannot eat with the tube in place, you will receive IV fluids.
- If a urine bag was attached during the surgery, you will be taught how to dispose of urine.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incision
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Difficult physical activity should be avoided for 4-6 weeks.
- Avoid heavy lifting, straining, and sexual activity until your doctor tells you it is okay.
- Driving and climbing stairs is usually allowed. Ask your doctor about any restrictions.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, heavy bleeding, or discharge from the incision and/or stoma site
- Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Inability to urinate or difficulty urinating, extreme cloudiness or pus in the urine, a bad odor to the urine
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Bladder cancer facts. AP John Institute for Cancer Research website. Available at:
http://www.apjohncancerinstitute.org/cancer/bladder.htm. Accessed July 17, 2013.
Cystectomy information binder. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:
http://urology.jhu.edu/bladder/Cystectomy.pdf. Accessed July 17, 2013.
Maffezzini M, Campodonico F, et al. Current perioperative management of radical cystectomy with intestinal urinary reconstruction for muscle-invasive bladder cancer and reduction of the incidence of postoperative ileus.
Surg Oncol. 2008;17(1):41-48.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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