A cystectomy is surgery to remove the bladder. Sometimes other organs are also removed.
After your doctor removes your bladder, he or she makes a new way for you to pass urine. This is called an ileal conduit (say "ILL-ee-ul KON-doo-ut"). It's made from a piece of your intestine. One end connects to your ureters. These are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The other end connects to an opening the doctor makes in the skin of your lower belly. This is called a urostomy, or a stoma.
After the surgery, urine will pass out of your body through the stoma and into a plastic bag. A nurse with special training will teach you how to care for your stoma.
Most people go home 1 to 2 weeks after the surgery. To fully recover, you will probably need 6 to 8 weeks.
Surgery to remove your bladder will not affect your sexual or reproductive life. But if a woman also has her uterus and ovaries removed, she will not be able to get pregnant. She could also start menopause and have hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause. And if a man has his prostate gland and seminal vesicles removed, he may have problems getting an erection. He will also not be able to get a woman pregnant. If you are a man who may want to father a child in the future, talk to your doctor. There are ways to save your sperm before the surgery.
It's common to feel sad or worried about how this surgery will affect you. It may help to join a support group. You can ask your doctor about these groups. You can also call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) for more information. Or you can visit its website at www.cancer.ca.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 27, 2018
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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