What should I know about the postoperative care for a cystectomy?

You should avoid effort for the first 6 to 8 weeks after undergoing cystectomy. As you recover, the pain will be less frequent, and you will regain your strength. It’s important to take your medication as your doctor told you.

Bladder removal surgery, also called cystectomy, is performed to remove the urinary bladder, the surgeon creating a new pathway for urine to leave the body. Cystectomy is mainly used to treat bladder cancer. It is also sometimes used to treat other tumors in the pelvis, abnormalities, or interstitial cystitis that does not respond to other treatments. Patients should discuss their potential options with their doctor, including the specific steps they should take to prepare for the surgery and how to lower postoperative complications after cystectomy.

After cystectomy you may experience the following symptoms:

  • sore belly - you will probably need pain medicine for 1 to 2 weeks
  • your urostomy will be swollen and tender for the first period - this usually improves after 2-3 weeks
  • you can have blood in your urine or your urine’s color might be light pink for the first 3 weeks after the procedure

How to lower postoperative complications after cystectomy

  • In order to prevent serious complications such as pneumonia and blood clots to form in the legs, it is critical to remain active even while you are recovering from surgery.
  • Walking every day will also speed up the healing process, decrease depression, and increase muscle tone.
  • Do not do strenuous activities like heavy lifting, and limit stair climbing to a minimum of 4 weeks.
  • Do not drive until you are no longer taking prescription pain medication, which is usually about 3 to 4 weeks after surgery.
  • Dietary advice will be given at the time of discharge. Drink plenty of water, get enough protein, keep portions small, are the top tips that will help you best tolerate your diet after surgery.
  • Most patients will be prescribed medication to control post-op pain and medication to prevent constipation, which is the most common side effect of opioid usage. Some patients may be given antibiotics; use all medications as directed early in the postoperative process.
  • You should also wait for at least 6 weeks before resuming sexual intercourse.
  • Pelvic floor exercises will help you avoid urine leaks following this surgery and strengthen your muscles.

Patients need to be prepared before going into cystectomy and set reasonable expectations of their post-surgery life

Doctors may also remove the prostate, part of the sperm duct, and the glands that secrete the semen when performing cystectomy on male patients. When female patients undergo radical cystectomy, the surgeons may also remove parts of the vagina, the ovaries, the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the cervix. The patient is under general anesthesia during the operation.

The patient is released from the hospital only when the new urine evacuation system functions correctly. It will take several weeks to recover after leaving the hospital.

You will feel some discomfort after the surgery and you will be given the necessary medicine to control it. You might have fluid drainage from your urethra. It is possible to have an additional treatment such as radiation therapy or immunotherapy following this procedure.

After cystectomy, it’s important to participate in the follow-up care program recommended by your doctor. However, if you experience any of the following before your follow-up appointment, please call your surgeon’s office at any time:

  • swelling in your legs, sudden chest pain, and/or trouble breathing
  • redness, tenderness, warmth, or swelling at the incision that doesn't go away or getting worse
  • fever, nausea, or vomiting
  • if you suspect you may have a blockage or obstruction in your catheter

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/