A cystectomy is a surgical procedure in which the bladder is removed.

This procedure is usually recommended when patients are diagnosed with bladder cancer. In males, a radical cystectomy usually includes the removal of the prostate and seminal vesicles. For females, radical cystectomies may involve the removal of the uterus, ovaries, and possibly part of the vagina. The extent of the cystectomy will depend on the severity of the patient's:

  • Medical issue
  • Overall health
  • Age

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How is a Cystectomy Performed?

There are multiple ways a surgeon can perform a cystectomy. Depending on your specific medical condition, your surgeon may recommend one of the following:

Open Cystectomy: An open cystectomy is when your surgeon performs a single incision in the abdomen to gain access to the pelvis and bladder.

Laparoscopic Cystectomy: A laparoscopic approach involves your surgeon making several incisions in your abdomen where various surgical instruments are placed to access the abdominal cavity.

Robotic-Assisted Cystectomy: Undergoing robotic-assisted cystectomy is similar to having a laparoscopic procedure. After placing the incisions, the surgeon will sit at a console and control the robot's movements.


Possible Risks

As with every surgical procedure, there are risks associated with a cystectomy. Since other internal organs are manipulated in order to reach the bladder, there is a risk of bleeding. In addition, there are other risks associated with this procedure, such as pneumonia and infection.

Oftentimes, a urinary diversion is also made when a cystectomy is performed. As such, there are also risks associated with creation of this urinary pathway. These risks include the following:


After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area. You will likely need to take pain medication for at least a week to minimize postoperative pain. During recovery, you will need to learn how to take care of your stoma.

A stoma is a pouch-like opening on the abdomen that helps rid the body of urine and feces. It may protrude out or lie flat. After a period of rest, you will begin walking short distances. Although it may be uncomfortable at first, gentle exercise has many positive effects, including:

  • Helping to restore bowel function
  • Improving circulation
  • Preventing joint stiffness
  • Reducing risk of blood clots

After the surgery, you will have regular visits with your doctor to monitor your recovery. Your doctor will advise you on the proper care of your stoma and what to expect as you continue to recover.

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Thomas E. Ahlering, M.D.
Urological Cancers
Professor and Vice Chairman
Greg E. Gin, M.D.
Urologic Oncology, Minimally Invasive Surgery
HS Assistant Clinical Professor
Cory M. Hugen, M.D.
Urological Cancers
HS Assistant Clinical Professor
Edward Uchio, M.D., F.A.C.S., C.P.I.
Urological Cancers
Mark Jordan, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.R.C.S. (C)
Urological Cancers
Residency Program Director, HS Clinical Professor

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