What is a Bladder Resection?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress
A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.

A bladder resection is a surgical procedure performed to remove cancerous tumors or suspicious masses of tissue from the inside the bladder. The operation may also be used to cut away part or all of a bladder that has been severely, permanently damaged. Bladder resection is usually performed through the urethra with the aid of an endoscopic camera called a cytoscope, so no surgical incisions are needed. The procedure carries few risks and has a high success rate.

The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.

Before considering bladder resection, a urologist will typically perform a series of tests to determine the likelihood that cancer or another major bladder problem exists. Blood and urine samples are analyzed to check for the presence of infection, autoimmune disorders, or unusual concentrations of protein or salt. Computerized tomography (CT) scans and ultrasounds are often used to look for signs of physical damage to the organ. If it is unclear whether or not a tumor exists, bladder resection can be performed as both a diagnostic and therapeutic operation.

A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used for performing surgeries.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used for performing surgeries.

Most bladder resection procedures take place in inpatient hospitals under the direction of a specially-trained urologist. Before the procedure, a patient is given a general anesthesia as well as localized numbing agents to prevent muscle contractions. A long, thin fiber optic cytoscope is inserted into the urethra and guided to the interior of the bladder. The surgeon uses the camera to identify tumors and lesions and inspect damage to surrounding tissue.

A urine sample will be analyzed before a bladder resection is considered.
A urine sample will be analyzed before a bladder resection is considered.

With the aid of the cytoscope, the surgeon can manipulate a laser cutting device or a precision scalpel to carefully remove a piece of tissue and withdraw it from the urethra. If resection surgery is done for diagnostic purposes, the sample can be sent to a lab to determine whether or not it is cancerous. When the surgeon already knows that cancer exists, the procedure continues until the entire tumor has been excised. The bladder walls are inspected and repaired as necessary before removing the cytoscope.

CT scans are often used to look for signs of physical damage to a person's bladder.
CT scans are often used to look for signs of physical damage to a person's bladder.

Following surgery, the patient is brought to a recovery room where nurses make sure the anesthesia wears off correctly. Ultrasounds and CT scans are taken to ensure the bladder is intact and not swelling. There are minor risks of internal bleeding and urinary tract infections that are treated accordingly in the hospital. Most patients who start feeling better are allowed to leave the hospital in one to four days. A follow-up visit in the first month of recovery can determine if the tumor has been fully eradicated and whether or not additional surgeries are needed.

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    • A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
      A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
    • The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
      The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
    • A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used for performing surgeries.
      A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used for performing surgeries.
    • A urine sample will be analyzed before a bladder resection is considered.
      A urine sample will be analyzed before a bladder resection is considered.
    • CT scans are often used to look for signs of physical damage to a person's bladder.
      CT scans are often used to look for signs of physical damage to a person's bladder.