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Cystectomy and Ileal/Colon Conduit Post-operative Instructions

Read carefully


These instructions are specific to Cystectomy with Ileal/Colon Conduit. If your surgery is Cystectomy with Indiana Pouch or Neobladder then click here

Urinary Drainage

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You will be taught in the hospital how to care for your stoma. You will learn how to drain the bag and how remove and and replace the appliance. Most people replace the ostomy appliance twice a week. 

Drainage options:

1. The ostomy bag holds 200-300 mL of urine. You can use just this bag and empty it every few hours. The bottom of the ostomy bag has a spigot that you turn as you lean over the toilet to empty. 
2. You can connect the spigot on the ostomy bag to extension tubing that runs to a leg bag. The leg bag holds another 500mL. This bag straps onto your lower leg like a holster and hides under your pants. 

3. You can connect the spigot on the ostomy bag to extension tubing that runs to an "overnight" bag. This bag holds up to 3000mL and allows you to get a full night's sleep without worrying about filling your bag. 

What happens if I don't empty the bag often enough? 

1. The appliance may be lifted off by the pressure causing you to leak urine everywhere.

2. Urine can back up into your kidneys causing kidney damage

3. Urine can back up into your kidneys causing a kidney infection. 



What are the stents? During your surgery we sewed your ureters to the back end of the conduit. The ureters are the two tube that carry the urine from your kidneys. In order to protect this connection and allow it to heal, we placed stents on both sides. These are small silicone tubes about the thickness of a cell phone charging cable. They allow the urine to drain past the stitched connection.

When are the stents removed? Depending on your medical history we may either remove those stents before you leave the hospital or may leave them in place for 4-6 weeks. Typically, we remove them in the hospital whenever we can. Reasons we leave them longer include prior radiation, malnutrition, immunosuppression, or scarring of the ureters, all of which can delay healing of this connection.  

How are the stents removed? These stents have coils in the upper end that keep them from falling out of the kidneys. On  the lower end we typically stitch them to the intestine on the outside of your stoma. To remove the stents, we cut the stitch and slide the stents out at the bedside. This does not hurt.


Can I accidentally pull out the stents? Even though the stents are stitched in place, they can fall out or accidentally be pulled out. When you are changing your stoma appliance it is important that you handle the stents carefully. When you are int he hospital you should receive instructions about how to hold onto the stents while removing the old appliance and how to tuck the stents into the new appliance as you put it on.  

Why was I instructed to flush the stents? Occasionally we may ask a patient to flush the stents twice a day to keep them draining well. This is ususally not necessary but in some people their intestinal stoma/conduit makes a lot of mucous and this clogs the drainage of the stents. If you were asked to flush your stents then you should have been provided with the syringes and adapters to do this. 

Bowel Movements


Because we removed some intestine during the surgery, your bowel movements may be irregular for a few months. You may be constipated one day and have diarrhea the next. Narcotic pain medicines can cause constipation, so we send people home from the hospital with a stool softener (e.g., docusate or Colace). It is important to stay ahead of the constipation because it can become so severe that it causes major abdominal pain and a trip back to the hospital. If your stools are too loose, then you can cut back on or stop the Colace. If your stools are still too loose, then you can take over-the-counter fiber supplements like Metamucil. If you are having loose stools, then it is important to drink lots of fluids because loose stools can dehydrate you. If loose stools persist for more than 3 days or if you have fever or abdominal pain, then this can be a sign of an infection and you should call our clinic. 


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By the time you leave the hospital, you should be back on your regular diet. But, because we removed some intestine during surgery, you may have a better appetite some days than others. The most important thing is that you stay hydrated. So, even if you don’t have much of an appetite, make sure that you drink at least 8 glasses of fluids a day.


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When you leave the hospital, you tend to increase your activity level a bit at home compared to what you were doing in the hospital. As a result, your pain can increase for the first couple of days at home. Some pain along your incision is normal, especially with activity (twisting, or getting out of bed or a chair).  You should be able to transition off the narcotic pain pills and onto just Tylenol and/or ibuprofen within a few days of going home. You might still need the occasional narcotic. You can take over-the-counter Tylenol 1000mg every 6 hours, not to exceed 4000mg a day. You can take ibuprofen with food 800mg every 8 hours, not to exceed 2400mg a day. It is okay to take both of these. If pain is intense and not controlled by this combination of medicines, or is deep inside your abdomen, then this could be a sign of a more significant problem, like an infection – please call our clinic to discuss.


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It is important to try to regain your baseline level of mobility. Being out of bed helps prevent pressure ulcers, pneumonia and blood clots in your legs. Some people who use a wheelchair worry that they might damage their incision or cause a hernia by using their upper body to transfer in and out of bed or the wheelchair. In fact, don’t worry about this; we would much rather have you up and out of bed than limiting your mobility to protect the incision.

Blood Thinners


Some surgeries put people at an increased risk of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs (deep venous thrombosis, a.k.a. DVT). Depending on your level of risk we may or may not have sent you home from surgery on a blood thinner to prevent DVT.  This may be an injection or a pill and usually is only used for one month after surgery, if at all.

Symptoms of a DVT can include calf swelling and pain, especially if it is in one leg but not the other. A DVT can travel to the lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolus (blood clot in the veins of the lungs). Symptoms of a pulmonary embolus can include shortness of breath and chest pain. A pulmonary embolus can be life-threatening. If you have symptoms of a DVT or pulmonary embolus, whether or not you are on blood thinners, please call us immediately.



You should not drive or drink alcoholic beverages while you are taking narcotic medications (see below).  You should not soak in a tub or pool until the catheter is removed.  Daily showering is important.

Wound Care


The skin of your surgical incision may have been closed with staples or stitches (sutures). Once you are at home, your incision can be left open to air. You can get it wet in the shower. Let the water and soap run over it but don’t scrub it. If you are overweight, the incision can get moist under a fold of fat; it is good to try to keep this area dry with baby powder and/or a gauze pad or paper towel.

If your incision was closed with sutures, then those will dissolve over a month or so. If it was closed with stitches, then there are usually some small pieces of tape (SteriStrips) over the wound as well, to help take tension off the stitches. It is okay to get the SteriStrips wet in the shower. The SteriStrips will fall off in about 2-3 weeks. If individual strips are halfway off, then you can pull those off the rest of the way.

If your incision was closed with staples, then those should be removed about 2 weeks after surgery. You can make arrangements with our clinic or your primary care provider to have those removed.

Some pain in the incision is normal. Pain plus redness that is bigger than an inch (2.5 cm) or pain plus wound drainage, may represent an infection. Please call our clinic if you have any of these symptoms. 



1.  Vicodin/Norco – this is a narcotic pain medication which you should only need for about a week after leaving the hospital. 

2.  You can resume all of your outpatient medications that you were taking before surgery. 

3. Blood thinners -- see above

4.  Stool softeners -- Immobility and narcotic pain medicines plus us operating on your intestines can cause constipation. This can become severe enough to result in major abdominal pain and a trip back to the hospital. So, we send you home with a stool softener. See above about "Bowel Movements".



Your follow-up appointment in Dr. Elliott’s clinic is generally 4 weeks after your surgery.  This appointment may be with a Physician's Assistant, or with Dr. Elliott's fellow, rather than Dr. Elliott. They are part of his team and very experienced in the post-operative care of his patients. At this appointment we will inspect your wound and ask about your diet, level of activity and pain. If your stents were removed in the hospital then we get a kidney ultrasound one month after removal. This will usually be done at the time of this post-operative follow-up visit. The ultrasound is to check that after removing the stents, there is no blockage (and hence swelling) of the kidneys. If you still have your stents in then we will remove them at this visit and get an ultrasound one month later.

Contact Us


University of Minnesota:

1.  Nursing phone helpline at the Urology clinic (8A-5P M-F): 612-625-6401

2.  Meghan Howe is Dr. Elliott's nurse in the Urology clinic. Her direct line is: 612-713-9649
3.  If after hours, call the clinic line at 612-625-6401 and you will be connected with the Urology resident on call. If that fails, then call 612-273-3000 and ask to speak with the Urology resident on call. 

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