A urostomy is a surgical procedure used to treat bladder cancer. This surgery can bring many changes to your life, even though it has life-saving benefits.

If you have a urostomy, you can develop new routines that will support your health and help you return to activities you enjoy.

The bladder is flexible and hollow. It is used to store urine and push it out of the body.

“A bladder cancer may lead to a tumor. Bladder cancer may spread if it isn’t treated.”

Bladder cancer can be treated with surgery. Some people may have their bladder removed. A surgeon must create a way to store urine.

There are a few options.

  • Incontinent diversion: A doctor attaches a piece of intestine to the ureters, which carry urine from the kidneys. This creates an ileal conduit, or pathway, from the kidneys to an opening in the front of the stomach called a stoma. A small bag called an ostomy bag attaches to the skin around the stoma to collect urine. In a cutaneous ureterostomy, the ureters are attached directly to the stoma. This procedure is also called a urostomy.
  • Continent diversion: This works in a similar way to incontinent diversion, but instead of a bag at the stoma, a surgeon creates a one-way valve. This is emptied several times a day using a tube.
  • Neobladder: This involves creating a new bladder inside the body using a piece of intestine.

You may experience a period of transition after urostomy surgery. It may take some time to develop a plan for your health and changes in your body. Your healthcare team can help.

Most people empty the urostomy pouch as often as they would go to the bathroom before surgery.

If the bag is about one-half or one-third full, try to empty it because a full pouch can put pressure on the seal.

“You can empty the bag by opening the valve at the bottom of the pouch. The contents will go into the toilet. You can use toilet paper to dry the end after closing the valve. The paper doesn’t need to be sterile.”

Some people use a night drainage system, where a tube is attached to a pouch valve and urine is drained into a larger container while they sleep.

Depending on the type of pouch you have, how often you change it depends on it. It may be every day, every few days, or once a week.

To avoid urine leaking onto your supplies, you may want to wait about 1 to 2 hours after drinking fluids to change the bag.

It is easy to see your sotomy when you change the bag in any physical position. Sometimes using a mirror can help.

Before changing the bag, you should clean your hands and place your supplies on a clean surface. You may want to use tissues or towels to absorb the urine from the bag.

You can get precut urostomy bags to fit if you want. You may have to cut an opening in the bag yourself in the period after surgery because the size of the stoma may change.

“You don’t need to eat or drink a special diet after urostomy surgery. It is a good idea to eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids when you find your appetite is low.”

You may want to drink beverages and eat foods that keep your urine acidic, even though there is no specific diet for urostomy.

It is possible to achieve this by drinking 2 quarts of water or other non alcoholic liquids per day. Acidic urine can help prevent urinary crystals.

During urostomy surgery, a piece of the intestine may be removed. Your bowel movements may be loosened.

“You don’t have to bathe with urostomy bag. If you remove it, you should wash the area with only water and dry it. This will help make sure the bag sticks to the skin when you put it back on.”

Some people shave the hair on the skin around the stoma. It can make it less painful to take off, and this can help with the bag sticking well.

If you do shave the area, use a dry razor and powder. After shaving, wash and dry the skin.

You should observe your skin around the pouch for sensitivities. A pouch cover can help. If barriers irritate your skin, you can try different barriers.

Pull the skin away from the pouch and not the pouch away from the skin when you remove it.

Your healthcare team or insurance company may be able to help you find a place to order urostomy supplies.

To allow for shipping and delays, try to keep your supply stocked and order new items a few weeks before they run out.

You can do the same things you did before urostomy surgery. You can use a smaller bag and waterproof dressing for these occasions.

People should not know you are wearing an ostomy pouch.

“People often find close friends and family understanding when they talk about urostomy, even if they don’t want to.”

If you have had urostomy surgery, you may have concerns about being intimate.

Talking with your partner or healthcare professional can help you manage these concerns.

If you are a close friend of a person who has had urostomy surgery, you can be an important source of support.

theless, many partners find the experience challenging. You can speak on your own, or with your partner, to a urostomy nurse or counselor about your own feelings about what it means for your relationship.

Bladder cancer can be treated with urostomy surgery. The procedure can bring changes to your life, but many people adopt a urostomy management plan that supports their health and well-being over time.