About the bladder

Models. On screen, pelvic MRI. Benign prostatic hyperplasia.


The urinary system, which includes the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys, helps maintain stable chemical conditions in the body, stores and eliminates waste products. The bladder, a muscular chamber located in the lower abdomen, acts as a reservoir to collect urine. Two narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. From the bladder, urine is emptied through another tube, the urethra, during urination.

A doctor should be consulted if any of these symptoms are experienced.

Common symptoms of bladder disorders include:

  • Blood in urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. 80% of people with bladder cancer have some blood in their urine.
  • Frequency – needing to pass urine very often
  • Urgency – needing to pass urine very suddenly
  • Pain when passing urine

These symptoms do not necessarily indicate bladder cancer but possibly a urine infection, particularly if you do not have blood in your urine. If you are a man the symptoms could be caused by an enlarged prostate gland.
Consult your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

About bladder cancer

Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the body and these extra cells grow together and form masses called tumours. In bladder cancer, these tumours form in the bladder where urine (liquid waste made by the kidneys) is stored in the body. Cancers of the bladder are usually diagnosed by examining urine for cancer cells under a microscope (known as urine cytology) or during cystoscopy, an inspection of the bladder by inserting a slender tube equipped with a lens and a light through the urethra up to the bladder.


Bladder surgical options

Please refer to your Urologist for advice on all bladder treatment options.

About partial and radical cystectomies

  • Partial cystectomy:

    If cancer has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder wall, but is not large and is confined to one region of the bladder, then it may be possible to treat the cancer by removing only part of the bladder. With this procedure, the portion of the bladder where there is cancer is removed, and the hole in the bladder wall is then closed. Nearby lymph nodes are also removed and examined for cancer.

  • Radical cystectomy:

    The surgical procedure in which the bladder is removed is called a radical cystectomy. Bladder cancer tends to spread to other areas of the body, and thus the bladder and the surrounding organs are usually removed.

    If cancer is larger in size or is in more than one region of the bladder, then the entire bladder may need to be removed. With a radical cystectomy, nearby lymph nodes may also be removed, along with the prostate (for men), and, for women, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and a small part of the vagina. This type of bladder cancer surgery is an extensive procedure, but may help ensure that all cancer cells are removed from the body and reduce the likelihood of the disease recurring.

    For all cystectomy procedures – Please refer to your Urologist for advice on all treatment options.

Robot-assisted cystectomy

By offering the surgeon, urologist or oncologist a high-definition 3-D view, the da Vinci® surgical robot distinguishes the vital muscles and delicate nerve tissues surrounding the operative area, providing the opportunity to preserve them. This enables surgeons to dissect and reconstruct the bladder with relative ease and the robot’s unique EndoWrist instruments offer an effective, minimally invasive surgical approach for cystectomy.

  • Benefits of Robot-Assisted Cystectomy

    The visualization, precision and control provided by the da Vinci® Surgical System offers the following potential surgery benefits versus open cystectomy:

    • Favourable operative, pathologic and short-term clinical outcomes
    • Precise and rapid bladder removal with minimal blood loss
    • Enhanced ability to preserve the neurovascular bundles in appropriately selected patients
    • More rapid return of bowel function
    • Designed to spare delicate nerve and muscle tissue
    • Keyhole-sized incisions distributed across the abdomen
    • A brief 4 – 7 day hospital stayLess risk of blood loss and a lower chance of needing a blood transfusion
    • Reduced scarring, minimal discomfort, and less need for major pain medication
    • One to three month’s period of recovery before regaining a normal level of urine control

For more information on coronavirus/Covid-19 in South Africa, visit: www.sacoronavirus.co.za