Bladder Surgery: What to Expect from Our Urologists

Urology is a surgery subspecialty. Urologists spend a year in general surgery during their 5-year urology residency program. Upon completing graduate education, they are required to apply for and pass a 2-part certification exam conducted by the American Board of Urology (ABU) to practice their profession.

Our board-certified urologists play an integral role in our Urologic Oncology Program at Providence Saint John's Health Center. Working together with a multidisciplinary team composed of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, researchers, and more, our urologists diagnose and treat the different types of cancer prevalent to the urinary system and male reproductive system.

Every year, our urologists perform a large number of surgeries to treat, and relieve the symptoms of bladder cancer. The 3 most common surgeries performed to treat this particular disease are:

  1. Cystectomy
    Cystectomy refers to the partial or complete removal of the urinary bladder. While primarily done to treat bladder cancer, cystectomy can also be performed to address birth defects and neurological disorders that affect the urinary system, and traumatic injuries to the bladder. Cystectomy is a complex procedure that can be performed as an open surgery, minimally invasive surgery, or robotic surgery. Should the patient’s condition require the complete removal of the bladder, the surgeon will have to use a part of the patient’s intestine to create a new storage for the urine or a new way for urine to exit the body.
  2. Cystoscopy
    This procedure uses a cystoscope, a long, thin tube with a lens on one end. The cystoscope is inserted to the bladder through the urethra to examine possible growths on the organ’s inner walls. In addition to providing a visual of the bladder’s inner lining, a cystoscope can also be used to collect tissue samples for biopsy.
  3. Transurethral resection (TUR) of the bladder tumor
    Transurethral resection of the bladder tumor is a procedure done to diagnose, stage, and treat bladder cancer. It is most effective when treating the cancer at its early stages, when it has not yet invaded the muscles that line the inside of the urinary bladder. For this procedure, a special cystoscope called resectoscope is used to see the inner walls of the bladder. Tissues that appear as malignant growths may be removed using the wire loop at the end of the resectoscope. These tissues are sent to the lab for biopsy. The resectoscope can also burn the base of the cancerous tissue by dispensing high-energy laser or electricity. The operation may be followed by 1 to 4 days of hospital stay and a few weeks of urinating with a bit of blood.

In addition to the traditional and common surgeries of the urinary and male reproductive systems, the urologists at Providence Saint John's Health Center’s Urologic Oncology Program also specialize in minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted cancer surgery. This modern approach to the treatment of bladder cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer is always complemented by our doctors’ personal commitment to each patient and their successful recovery. 

More Articles on Bladder Cancer:
Bladder Cancer Treatment: Finding a Urologist After Diagnosis