Removal of the bladder (cystectomy) is a complex surgical procedure. Cystectomy is most commonly performed for bladder cancer, but it's also done for other cancers or conditions such as birth defects, trauma or certain neurological disorders.

Cystectomy involves either partial or complete (radical) removal of the bladder. This surgery may be performed either as an open or minimally invasive (laparoscopic) procedure. Minimally invasive surgery typically involves the use of a surgical robot for better precision.

After a complete cystectomy, surgeons reconstruct the urinary tract to provide a way for you to expel urine. Several options exist. For example, the surgeon may create a tube (urinary conduit) using a piece of your bowel (intestine) that runs from your kidneys to a pouch (urostomy bag) outside of your abdomen. Or, in certain cases, the surgeon may create a new bladder (neobladder) made out of a section of the bowel, enabling near-normal urination.

Mayo surgeons most commonly perform a cystectomy to treat bladder cancer that has spread into the bladder wall. They may also perform a cystectomy to treat recurring superficial or treatment-resistant bladder cancer, as well as other conditions. Options may include:

  • Partial cystectomy. In this procedure, also called a segmental cystectomy, surgeons remove the tumor and only a portion of the bladder. Doctors perform this procedure when your bladder will likely be able to continue to work normally.
  • Radical cystectomy. In a radical cystectomy, surgeons remove your entire bladder. This is more common than a partial procedure because bladder cancer is often found when the disease is so advanced that partial removal isn't possible. For men, radical cystectomy usually involves removing the bladder, prostate and glands that help produce semen (seminal vesicles). For women, radical cystectomy usually involves removing the uterus, ovaries and sometimes part of the vagina. If you undergo this surgery, you may also have lymph nodes removed for examination. Removal of the lymph nodes has been shown to improve survival for people undergoing cystectomy.

For both radical and partial cystectomy, surgeons can perform the procedure using one of these methods:

  • Traditional (open) procedure. Surgeons use a traditional abdominal incision.
  • Minimally invasive robotic surgery. During robotic surgery, the surgeon uses a computer that remotely controls small instruments attached to a robot, with improved precision. The surgeon works while viewing highly magnified 3-D images of your body on a monitor. Use of several smaller incisions can decrease scarring and speed recovery.
  • Expertise and experience. Mayo surgeons are skilled in both partial and complete cystectomies, as well as urinary diversion surgery. Mayo Clinic's high-volume practice means that you'll receive the highest level of care.
  • Team approach, tailored to your needs. Your Mayo Clinic treatment team will conduct extensive testing and consultations. They will recommend the most appropriate type of cystectomy to treat your bladder cancer (based on type, stage, size and location) or other condition, and provide expert follow-up care.
  • Advanced technology. Mayo Clinic's surgeons have been at the forefront in designing new methods for urinary diversion after bladder removal. They perform several types of urinary diversion, such as creating a new bladder when feasible, to help speed your recovery and improve quality of life.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

At Mayo Clinic in Arizona, urologists perform cystectomies, working with other specialists as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Florida, urologists perform cystectomies, working with other specialists as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, urologists perform cystectomies, working with other specialists as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic is actively researching bladder cancer and other conditions that may require cystectomy. These studies include novel treatments before surgery, new surgical techniques during surgery and enhanced recovery procedures, which may let you get back to your life earlier than ever before.

Publications

See a list of publications on cystectomy from Mayo Clinic doctors on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Oct. 03, 2011