by Diana Kohnle
A cystectomy is a surgery to remove all or part of the bladder:
Reasons for a cystectomy include:
If you are planning to have a cystectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These may include:
Previous surgery in the abdomen or pelvis or radiation to the area increases your risk of complications.
Doctors recommend that you quit smoking before surgery. You may also 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:
General anesthesia is given before surgery. You will be asleep.
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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About 3–6 hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the surgery. Recovery is usually painful. Your doctor will give you medicine to help manage the pain.
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.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
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
Last Updated: 5/11/2013