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Before your operation for invasive bladder cancer

Men and women discussing bladder cancer

This page tells you about preparations for surgery for invasive bladder cancer. You can find information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Before your operation for invasive bladder cancer

You and your family need to understand exactly what your operation involves and how you will manage afterwards. If you are going to have a urostomy or continent urinary diversion, you may see a stoma nurse. This is a nurse experienced in teaching people how to use and look after stomas. Or a specialist nurse on the ward may show you. It might be helpful if your partner or someone close to you is there at the same time, so they can learn about stomas too.

Tests

You will have blood tests and possibly a chest X-ray before your operation. If you have other health problems you may need other tests to make sure you are fit enough for the operation.

Cleaning out your bowel

The surgeon may need to use part of your bowel to make the new way of collecting your urine. The cleaner your bowel, the less likely you are to get an infection after your operation. For a few days before the operation you will need to follow a special diet and take laxatives. You may have an enema when you go into hospital to make sure your bowel is empty.

Eating and drinking

You may need to stop eating the day before the operation or on the day itself. But you can usually drink clear fluids until about 4 hours before the surgery. Your nurse will tell you about this. They may also give you high protein, high calorie drinks to help maintain your nutrition.

 

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Information about the operation and stoma care

You and your family need to understand exactly what the operation involves and how you will manage afterwards. Before the operation you will go to a pre operation assessment at the hospital. You will have tests to make sure you are fit enough for the operation. The doctor and nurses will tell you about the Enhanced Recovery Programme at your hospital. This is a programme of care that helps people recover more quickly after a big operation.

If you are going to have a urostomy or continent urinary diversion, you may see a stoma nurse before the operation. Stoma nurses are experienced in looking after stomas and teaching you how to do this yourself. They may visit you before and after your operation to help you learn to look after your stoma. Or the nurses on the ward will show you.

You might also see a stoma nurse if you are having a bladder reconstruction. This is in case the surgeon can't make a new bladder and has to carry out a urostomy instead.

At the first visit the nurse will answer your questions and show you the different types of urostomy bags you can use. They may give you a practice kit with a stick on stoma. You can practice sticking on the stoma bags and changing them. Your nurse will also explain how you can put thin tubes into the urostomy to drain out the urine (self catheterisation) if you will need to do this. 

It may be useful to have someone else with you when you talk to the stoma nurse. It might also help if your partner or someone else close to you understands what the operation involves and how you will need to manage afterwards.

You may also have a visit from someone who has already had the type of operation you are going to have. Most people find this extremely helpful. Someone who has been through what you are experiencing will know what is most important to tell you. And they will be able to answer your questions from first hand experience.

 

Tests

You will have blood tests to see how your kidneys are working. And you will also have blood tests to match your blood for any transfusions you may need during the surgery. You may have a chest X-ray to check your lungs before your anaesthetic. If you have any other possible health problems, you may have other tests to make sure that you are fit enough for the operation.

 

Preparing your bowel for the operation

If the surgeon will use part of your bowel to create a new way of getting rid of your urine, you may need to follow a special diet for a few days before your surgery. The special diet reduces the amount of stool in the bowel. In some hospitals you have a enemas to empty the bowel completely.

 

Eating and drinking

You can usually drink clear fluids until 4 hours or so before the surgery. Your nurse will tell you when you need to stop drinking. They may also give you high protein, high calorie drinks to have each day. These can help to maintain your nutrition and help you to recover more quickly after the operation.

 

Preventing infection

To help stop infection after surgery you will have antibiotics before the operation. You may have the antibiotics as an injection or as tablets.

 

Preventing blood clots

When you are in bed after an operation and not moving around very much, you are more likely to develop blood clots. To stop blood clots forming, you may have injections of blood thinning drugs such as heparin, tinzaparin, enoxaparin, clexane or dalteparin before the surgery and for a couple of weeks afterwards. 

The drugs stop the blood from clotting so easily. You usually have them as a small injection under the skin. You may need to have blood tests to check your blood clotting times. Your nurse or physiotherapist will also show you leg exercises that you can do after the surgery to lower the risk of blood clots. They may also give you compression stockings to wear.

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Updated: 13 May 2015