If you have bladder cancer, one of the most common treatment options is surgery. In some cases, surgery might mean removing the bladder completely. This is called a radical cystectomy.
Aggressive bladder cancers can spread to other nearby organs. In order to protect your health, more than just the bladder may need to be removed. In men, this can mean removal of the:
- Seminal vesicles
- Lymph nodes
Women may need to have the following structures removed:
- Vaginal wall
- Lymph nodes
Advances in bladder surgery mean that your surgeon can perform your radical cystectomy and also remove any other organs as needed in a single, minimally invasive procedure.
A delicate operation needs precise tools
With a robotic radical cystectomy, a surgeon can use special robotic surgical tools to perform the surgery. The surgeon stands at a control panel with a 3D viewing screen and a dashboard of controls.
Using these controls, the surgeon directs specialized robotic arms to perform laparoscopic surgery through a few small, keyhole-sized incisions in your abdomen. Since the robotic arms are so precise and the attached tools are so tiny, it's easier for the surgeon to steer clear of nerves and muscles during the procedure. This helps to speed healing and minimize complications.
Rebuilding the bladder after surgery
After the bladder is removed, the next step is to redirect or divert the flow of urine since the bladder isn't there to collect it anymore. This might involve building a reconstructed bladder from part of your intestine, inserting a catheter and/or attaching a urostomy bag, which collects urine outside your body. Talk to your doctor about which options are best for you.