Cystectomy With Ileal Conduit: Before Your Surgery

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Kidneys, ureters, and bladder in lower belly, with detail of stoma and ileal conduit after bladder is removed, with bag attached to skin around stoma.

What is a cystectomy?

A cystectomy is surgery to remove the bladder. Sometimes other organs are also removed.

After your bladder is removed, the doctor makes a new way for you to pass urine. A common way 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 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 within several days to 1 week after the surgery. To fully recover, you will probably need 6 to 8 weeks.

Depending on the reason for your surgery, removing your bladder may affect your sexual or reproductive life. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor before your surgery.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
    Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
    Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
    Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
    You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
    The surgery will take about 3 to 5 hours.
    You will have a plastic collection bag around your stoma to collect urine. You will also have small tubes called stents from your kidneys to the bag. The stents allow the connection between the ureter and your intestine to heal. They are usually removed in 2 to 4 weeks.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.