Radical cystectomy

Bladder cancer surgery

The surgical removal of a cancerous bladder

About radical cystectomy

A radical cystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the bladder. There are two types of radical cystectomy: open (making a large cut) or laparoscopic (making key-hole size cuts). You may need to have a cystectomy for a number of reasons, including if you're experiencing uncontrollable bleeding; have high-grade bladder cancer; or if your bladder has been damaged by cytotoxic treatment. Having a cystectomy will change the way you pass urine.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    In an open radical cystectomy, your consultant surgeon will make a large cut (approximately 15-18 inches long) to remove your entire bladder. In a laparoscopic radical cystectomy, your bladder will be removed using a laparoscope (keyhole camera) as a guide to make several small cuts instead of a big one. Both procedures are carried out under a general anaesthetic, meaning you'll be asleep. During the surgery, your consultant will create a new way for you to pass urine. This could be a urinary diversion (attaching a stoma bag outside of your skin) or a neobladder replacement. A nurse will show you how to look after the bag.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    You'll be asked to arrive at the hospital either on the day or morning before your operation. You won't be able to eat food six hours before your operation. You can drink clear, still water up to three hours before your surgery. Your consultant will explain what else to expect prior to the surgery. They will also explain what will happen during the surgery and outline any possible risks and side effects.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    After your open or laparoscopic radical cystectomy, you'll be transferred to an intensive care unit for a recovery period of 24-48 hours. Once stable, you'll be taken to the main ward. Your consultant or nurse will let you know when you can leave the hospital and if you should arrange for someone to take you home.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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