Health Encyclopedia


Health Encyclopedia Home

What to Expect After Reconstructive Surgery for Bladder Cancer

What to Expect After Reconstructive Bladder Surgery

It takes time to get used to the changes in your body when you've had reconstructive surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you had, you may not urinate the way you used to. You may have an abdominal opening and an external urine bag to cope with. You'll want to talk with your health care team about any questions and concerns you may have.

What to expect after urostomy

After having any type of urostomy, you'll have a drainage tube from the new bladder coming out through an opening (stoma) in the abdomen. This may be in place for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Your surgeon may take X-rays to check how well your bladder has healed and to ensure there isn't leakage before removing the drainage tube.

After the operation, urine will constantly flow through your ureters into the external pouch. Once the tube is removed, you'll use an adhesive patch to hold a plastic pouch to your skin over the stoma. You will need to change the pouch every 3 to 5 days. When the pouch is full, simply empty the urine through a valve at the bottom of the appliance. When you change the appliance, wash the abdominal area around the opening thoroughly with soap and warm water. Then attach a new pouch. A specially trained nurse, called an enterostomal nurse, will help supervise your care when you've had a urostomy. The nurse will give you instructions on keeping the urine bag, catheter, or abdominal opening clean. The nurse will also give you advice on lifestyle issues, such as having sex or cleaning your urine bag at work.

When you come home after the surgery, watch out for these possible warning signs that there may be problems with your urostomy:

  • Redness or swelling around the abdominal opening

  • Urine leaks from the bag or catheter

  • A blockage of urine flow

Call your doctor or stoma nurse immediately if you notice any of these problems.

What to expect after cutaneous continent diversion

After the operation, urine will flow through the ureters into the pouch in your body. The pouch will hold more urine as time goes by. It will hold about a pint of urine a few months after the operation.

You will learn to recognize the sensation when the pouch is getting full of urine. When it's full, you will pass a tube, called a catheter, into the opening in your abdomen to let the urine out. For a few weeks after the surgery, you'll probably need to drain the pouch every few hours. As the pouch stretches, you will probably empty it every 4 to 6 hours.

You will be shown how to drain it. First, wash your hands thoroughly. Take the disposable catheter out of the package. Put a little gel on the tip. Gently push the catheter into the abdominal opening until urine starts to come out. Drain the urine into a container, then flush the urine down the toilet. The catheter is reusable but needs to be washed with soap and water. Wash your hands following this procedure.

What to expect after orthotopic continent urinary reconstruction

The ability to control urination during the day is better than 90% with a neobladder. Your ability to control urine flow at night may not be quite as good, particularly in the first 6 to 9 months after surgery. You may be able to manage the problem by drinking less before bedtime. Men may also want to talk with their doctors about a condom catheter, which attaches to the penis like a condom and collects urine.

The physical and emotional changes from your cancer surgery may be significant. Be certain to ask your medical team for follow-up resources that will help you and your family manage not only the physical effects of the cancer treatment, but also the mental and emotional changes.  

Related Items
Content Type 134
  Top 10 Cancers Among Men
Drug Reference
  Bacillus Calmette-Guerin Vaccine, BCG
Cancer Source
  I’ve Just Been Told I Have Bladder Cancer
  Statistics of Bladder Cancer
  Am I At Risk for Bladder Cancer?
  What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
  How Does My Doctor Know I Have Bladder Cancer?
  Understanding Your Type of Bladder Cancer
  Understanding Your Stage of Bladder Cancer
  Immunotherapy for Bladder Cancer
  What Happens During Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer
  What to Know About Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer
  How Your Doctor Uses Biopsies to Diagnose Bladder Cancer
  Can I Survive Bladder Cancer? What Is My Prognosis?
  Tips for Telling Your Healthcare Team How You Feel During Treatment for Bladder Cancer
  Do What You Can to Ease Treatment Side Effects and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
  What Happens with Local (Intravesical) Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer
  What Happens With Systemic Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer
  What to Expect After Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer
  What to Expect After Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer
  Common Treatment Combinations Based on Your Stage of Bladder Cancer
  What to Know About Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer
  What Happens During Reconstructive Surgery for Bladder Cancer
  Questions to Ask About Treatment for Bladder Cancer
  Making the Decision to Have Surgery for Bladder Cancer
  Making the Decision to Have Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer
Cancer FAQs
  Frequently Asked Questions: Bladder Cancer
Daily News Feed
  Exercise Linked to Improved Bladder Cancer Survival
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Bladder Cancer