A cystotomy is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made into the bladder through the abdomen. This surgery is performed in order to investigate and treat bladder and urinary tract problems in pets as well as in people.

Reasons for a Cystotomy

There are several reasons a cystotomy may be performed, the most common of which is to remove stones in the urethra or bladder. Other reasons for a cystotomy may include:

  • To diagnose bladder problems, such as tumors
  • To diagnose and treat resistant urinary tract infections
  • To repair bladder or ureters after traumatic injury
  • To treat abnormal crystals in the urine
  • To treat bladder infections
  • To repair ectopic ureters

Symptoms of Urinary Disorders

Urinary problems are common in dogs and cats. The first symptoms of a urinary disorder is usually increased frequency of urination. This symptom may also result from other underlying diseases, however, so a definitive diagnosis has to be made.

Other symptoms of urinary problems include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever
  • Signs of pain or discomfort during urination
  • Changes in urinary behavior
  • Inability to urinate

All urinary symptoms should be reported to the veterinarian promptly. If the pet becomes unable to urinate, the situation has become life-threatening and emergency medical treatment is required.

Diagnostic Tests Prior to a Cystotomy

Before undergoing surgery, the animal's general health has to be evaluated, both to see whether urinary or bladder problems are responsible for the symptoms and to determine the particular objectives of the potential surgery. The following diagnostic tests may be administered: blood tests, urinalysis, EKG, X-rays, and abdominal ultrasound.

The Cystotomy Procedure

The cystotomy is usually a straightforward and safe surgical procedure, performed under general anesthesia. There is only a low risk of complications. An incision is made in the abdomen in the area that the bladder is located. When the bladder is visible, the veterinarian makes an incision into the bladder itself. Once inside the bladder, the doctor performs the necessary procedures which may include removing stones, obtaining tissue samples for analysis or culture, or making necessary surgical repairs.

Cystotomies used to be performed as traditional surgeries, requiring large incisions, but are now mostly performed laparoscopically. There are many advantages to a laparoscopic procedure, including less pain and shorter recovery time.

After the required work in the area is finished, the bladder is sutured closed with self-dissolving stitches. Before closing the abdominal incision, the abdomen is flushed to remove any urine that has leaked into the cavity in order to prevent subsequent infection.

After the surgery, analgesics and antibiotics are usually administered. The catheter that has been inserted prior to surgery will be removed in a day or two and sutures or staples that have been used to close the abdominal wound will be removed in 10 to 14 days. The animal typically remains hospitalized for 2 or 3 days after the surgery.

Recovery from a Cystotomy

Recovery from a cystotomy is usually smooth. The wound should be checked to make sure there is no redness, swelling or other sign of post-surgical infection. While blood-tinged urine is to be expected for the first few days after the procedure, any pain or straining during urination is cause for concern and should be immediately reported to the veterinarian.

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