If you’ve recently been diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer, you may have been told that you will require a cystectomy (a surgical procedure to remove your entire bladder or a portion thereof) to stop or delay the cancer’s progression.
At Ironwood Urology, board-certified Phoenix urologist Dr. Desiderio Avila, Jr. has performed numerous successful cystectomies, helping many of our patients live a normal, active life with their new urinary system. If you decide to partner with Dr. Avila for your care, he will take the time to explain everything you need to know about cystectomy—its risks, benefits, long-term outlook, success rate, among others.
Learning that you have an invasive type of cancer can be devastating and overwhelming altogether, but keep in mind that you need to muster up all the courage to get involved in your own treatment. While the outcome is not a hundred percent guaranteed, a cystectomy is exactly what you need to live long and well.
Asking the right questions plays an important part in managing your care. Here are some that you may want to ask Dr. Avila when contemplating a cystectomy.
What Does the Surgery Involve?
Cystectomy is a very complicated procedure that usually takes several hours (four to six) to complete and is performed under general anesthesia.
Dr. Avila will remove your bladder and other organs, such as your prostate, if necessary. There may be one large incision or several small ones, depending on the doctor’s preferences and your individual case. He will then proceed with performing urinary reconstruction and diversion to create a new way for you to excrete urine.
Afterwards, you will spend several hours in recovery and get transferred to a hospital room. You may rest and recuperate in the hospital for up to a week. You will receive pain medication, incision care, ambulation, fluids, and postoperative care instructions, especially on how to use your new urinary system.
How Will I Urinate Without a Normal Bladder?
Dr. Avila will recommend the type of urinary diversion based on the type of cystectomy that you had. The following are the three types of urinary reconstruction and diversion:
- Creation of a “new” urinary bladder with a piece of small intestine, or ileum (an ileal conduit passes urine to the outside of your body through a stoma and into a collection bag)
- Creation of a continent urinary reservoir with a piece of small intestine (your new bladder must be emptied with a catheter)
- Creation of a neobladder from a larger section of ileum (this option most closely resembles normal urination)
All these options are proven to empty the bladder efficiently and completely.
What Are the Potential Complications?
As with any other surgical procedure, cystectomy does have some complications, albeit very rare. These include the following:
- Blood clots
- Incisional infection
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Urinary incontinence
The following are signs and symptoms of infection, so make sure to reach out to Dr. Avila right away if you experience any of these:
· Back pain
· Cloudy, dark urine
· More mucus in your pee (having some white mucus threads is normal)
· Upset stomach
· Very strong-smelling urine
How Will I Go About My Day-to-Day Life After Cystectomy?
The procedure entails a lifelong change. After cystectomy, you’ll need to get accustomed to a new way to pass urine and carry out your daily tasks, such as bathing, travel habits, among others.
With enough time, you will be able to get back to your routine before you had the surgery, albeit this time, you already have a urostomy pouch (to collect your urine) wherever you go. After getting Dr. Avila’s go-ahead, you are free to go back to work, exercise, and even swim.To schedule a consultation with Dr. Avila, call us at our Phoenix office at (489) 961-2323, or our Gilbert location at (480) 664-0261, or you may use our appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!