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What is a Ureterostomy?

A ureterostomy is a surgical procedure that creates a new pathway for urine to exit the body when the bladder is not available. It involves redirecting the ureters to an opening in the abdominal wall. This life-altering surgery can be visualized through our detailed images. Wondering how this changes daily life? Continue with us to understand the impacts and adaptations.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A ureterostomy is a surgical procedure where an opening in the abdomen, known as a stoma, is created to allow drainage from one or both of the ureters, the tubes running from the kidneys to the bladder. This procedure may be required when a patient's bladder is removed for the treatment of a condition like bladder cancer or when a patient's bladder function is very poor. The patient will need to wear a collection bag for urine, as the muscles used to control urination are not included in the ureterostomy.

Before a ureterostomy is recommended, the patient is thoroughly reviewed to see if other treatment options are available or more suitable. A urologist may be involved along with practitioners like nephrologists, who specialize in kidney care. If the patient's medical team feels this procedure is the best option, they can provide the patient with information about what to expect and how to manage the stoma after the procedure is over. Generally, patients will need to be hospitalized initially until they are producing urine and appear to be free of infection and other complications.

A bag must be worn to collect urine following a ureterostomy.
A bag must be worn to collect urine following a ureterostomy.

This surgery is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia, and it is considered an invasive abdominal surgery. Some procedures involve only one ureter, while others will bring both to the abdominal wall. When both are moved, the surgeon can choose between placing one drainage port on either side of the abdomen, bringing them to the same side, or creating a single stoma and linking both ureters to it. The procedure varies in length, depending on the option chosen and the patient's general level of health.

A ureter connects the kidney to the bladder.
A ureter connects the kidney to the bladder.

Risks of a ureterostomy can include adverse reactions to anesthesia, especially in patients with existing health problems who may not fare well under the anesthetic, along with the risk of infection at the surgical site. Once the patient recovers, the stoma needs to be cared for and patients who treat the surgical site indifferently or are inattentive may develop infections, leading to reddened, irritated skin around the opening.

General anesthesia is required to perform a ureterostomy.
General anesthesia is required to perform a ureterostomy.

Some patients are concerned about having to wear a urine collection bag after a procedure like a ureterostomy. Technology behind these procedures has improved significantly, and the risks of leaks and other issues are much lower than they once were. While wearing a bag, a patient can usually engage in normal activity levels, and specially designed straps and pouches can be used for patients concerned about vigorous athletic activity. The bag can be quickly and easily emptied and changed by the patient.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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    • A bag must be worn to collect urine following a ureterostomy.
      By: Rob Byron
      A bag must be worn to collect urine following a ureterostomy.
    • A ureter connects the kidney to the bladder.
      By: kocakayaali
      A ureter connects the kidney to the bladder.
    • General anesthesia is required to perform a ureterostomy.
      By: uwimages
      General anesthesia is required to perform a ureterostomy.
    • The technology behind ureterostomy procedures has improved, lowering the risks for patients.
      By: Kot63
      The technology behind ureterostomy procedures has improved, lowering the risks for patients.
    • Doctors and nurses must follow strict sterilization protocols to reduce the risk of infection after a ureterostomy.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Doctors and nurses must follow strict sterilization protocols to reduce the risk of infection after a ureterostomy.
    • A ureterostomy is performed when a patient's bladder is removed for the treatment of bladder cancer.
      By: 7activestudio
      A ureterostomy is performed when a patient's bladder is removed for the treatment of bladder cancer.