Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library




A vesicostomy is a temporary opening in the bladder to the outside of the body that allows urine to drain.

The Bladder

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Reasons for Procedure ^

The opening is created when a problem prevents urine from draining out of the bladder.

Possible Complications  ^

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, such as:

  • An opening that narrows
  • Bladder tissue that pokes through the opening
  • Tissue that pulls in from the opening
  • Excess bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection

What to Expect ^

Prior to Procedure

Your child’s doctor will do blood and urine tests. In addition:

  • Food or drink may not be allowed after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • Certain medications may cause complications during the procedure or recovery. These medications may need to be stopped up to 1 week before the procedure.

Talk to your child’s doctor before the procedure about all medications your child is taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.


General anesthesia will be used. It will block pain and keep your child asleep through the procedure. It is given through an IV.

Description of the Procedure

A small incision will be made through the skin below the bellybutton. A second incision will be made in the wall of the bladder. A small part of the bladder wall will be turned inside out and sewn to the abdomen.

A catheter may be placed in the opening to help urine drain or it may be left open.

How Long Will It Take?

1 hour

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

After the procedure, your child will be observed in a recovery room. Care for the rest of your child’s hospital stay may include:

  • Antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Medication to prevent blood clots
  • Learning how to care for the opening, including how to diaper your child
  • Learning about diet and activity changes

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your child’s chance of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your child’s incisions covered

There are also steps you and your child can take to reduce your child’s chances of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your child’s healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your child’s incisions

At Home

The urine will be able to drain directly into a diaper. Most can return to activity within a week of surgery.

Call Your Child’s Doctor  ^

Call your child’s doctor if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, or warmth around the opening
  • Yellow or green discharge around the opening
  • Pain that does not improve with the medication your child has been given
  • Urine does not drain from the opening
  • Urine that has a bad smell or is cloudy
  • Excess blood in the urine
  • Tissue sticks out of the opening or pulls in from the opening

If you think your child has an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics

Kids Health—Nemours Foundation


About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children

Health Canada


Vesicostomy. About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children website. Available at: Updated November 10, 2009. Accessed June 19, 2017.

Vesicostomy. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Updated January 9, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2017.

Vesicostomy. St. Louis Children’s Hospital website. Available at: Accessed June 19, 2017.

Vesicostomy care. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: Updated April 2015. Accessed June 19, 2017.

What is a vesicostomy? Children’s & Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia website. Available at: Published December 2004. Accessed June 19, 2017.

Last reviewed August 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP