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Bladder Augmentation—Open Surgery

(Augmentation, Bladder—Open Surgery; Augmentation Cystoplasty—Open Surgery; Cystoplasty, Augmentation—Open Surgery)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Reasons for Procedure | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor


Bladder augmentation is surgery to increase bladder size.

The Urinary Tract

The Urinary Tract
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

Bladder augmentation surgery makes the bladder large enough to collect urine. When the bladder is too small, urine can leak out of the body (incontinence) or back up into the kidneys ( reflux). This can cause a kidney infection and could damage the kidneys. The procedure is used to treat serious forms of incontinence after other treatments have failed.

Birth defects and other conditions, like chronic obstructive bladder damage, can cause the bladder to be too small.

Surgery may also be done if you have:

  • An overactive bladder—bladder muscle contracts when it does not need to, leading to urine leakage
  • A neurogenic bladder —problems with nerve signals leading to the brain and muscles, leading to urine leakage or retention

Possible Complications

Complications are rare. But, no procedure is completely free of risk. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, including:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Bladder rupture
  • Abdominal pain
  • Urinary incontinence—may be for a short time or require more surgery to fix
  • Increased risk of kidney stones

These conditions can increase your risk of complications:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Chronic conditions, such as diabetes
  • Obesity

Discuss these risks with your doctor.

What to Expect

Your doctor will:

  • Order tests, like blood and urine tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, and bladder pressure studies
  • Talk to you about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the surgery, like:
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen
    • Blood thinners
    • Anti-platelet medications

Before surgery, your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Eat a low-fiber diet.
  • Take antibiotics.
  • Cleanse your bowel—You will drink a special liquid that causes loose stool. The liquid may also be given through a tube placed in the nose down to the stomach.

General anesthesia will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.

The doctor will make an incision in the abdomen. An incision will also be made on the top part of the bladder. A part of the intestine or stomach will be removed and placed over the opening in the bladder. This new part will work like a patch. The doctor will sew it into place.

The doctor may also create a stoma. This is a small opening through the abdominal wall to an opening at the top of the bladder. This will make it easier for you to insert the catheter into the bladder.

A catheter will be left in place to drain urine from the bladder.

You may be given fluids, pain medications, and antibiotics through an IV. A tube will be placed through your nose to your stomach. This tube will keep your stomach drained of any contents. It will stay in place until your stomach and intestines begin working normally.

4-8 hours

Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your doctor will give you pain medications after surgery.

The usual stay is 6-10 days. If you have any problems, you will need to stay longer.

The staff will:

  • Give you fluids and nutrients through an IV—You will not be able to eat until your intestines are working normally. This may take several days. When you are ready, the tube in your nose will be removed. You will begin to take fluids by mouth. You will slowly progress to soft foods.
  • Have you take deep breaths to keep your lungs clear
  • Prompt you to walk
  • Teach you how to insert the catheter through the urethra or through the stoma—Depending on your recovery, the catheter that was placed during surgery may be removed before you go home. If so, you will be taught how to catheterize yourself at home using a tube.
  • Teach you how to wash out the bladder using a salt water solution and a catheter

Do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Take medications as instructed.
  • Clean the incision areas with warm water and gentle soap.
  • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
  • If you have a catheter, follow the instructions for taking care of it. You may see bloody urine for a few weeks.
  • If you are catheterizing yourself, carefully follow the guidelines for emptying your bladder.
  • Irrigate the bladder as instructed. This is especially important if you have a piece of the intestine attached to your bladder. The intestine patch will continue to make mucus. This can clog the catheter tube.
  • Do not drive or do difficult physical activities until the doctor gives you permission.
  • Return to the doctor in 3-4 weeks for x-rays of the bladder.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the incision and/or stoma site
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Little urine output, extreme cloudiness or pus in the urine, a bad odor to the urine
  • Difficulty with catheterizing or irrigating

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse


Urology Care Foundation



Canadian Urological Association



Bladder augmentation. Case Western Reserve University/MetroHealth Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.chrp.org/empowering/ba.shtm. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Bladder augmentation. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site2091/mainpageS2091P0.html. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Bladder augmentation (enlargement). Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=56. Updated January 2011. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Bladder augmentation surgery FAQ. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/education/bladder_augmentation_surgery/index.html. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Continent stomas. Case Western Reserve University/MetroHealth Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.chrp.org/empowering/cs.shtm. Accessed August 8, 2013.

6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

Last reviewed August 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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