A Cystotomy is a common surgical procedure where an incision is made into the urinary bladder. This procedure can be done for many reasons. The most common reason is to remove bladder or urethral stones. Other indications include helping to diagnose bladder tumors, repairing a ruptured bladder, and aiding in the diagnosis of severe urinary tract infections. Pets can form abnormal crystals in their urine secondary to a systemic illness, bladder infection, or nutritional imbalance. These crystals end up growing into solid calculi that cause irritation, infection, and pain. Stones can get lodged in the urethra and prevent your pet from being able to urinate. Some signs of stones are blood-tinged urine, straining to urinate, urinating small volumes and frequently, or not being able to urinate. 

The procedure itself has relatively few complications. Pets are placed under general anesthesia. Depending on the patient's age, physical examination findings and overall health,  pre-anesthetic bloodwork may be performed before surgery to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for the procedure and to help aide your veterinarian in picking the best anesthetic to use. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork assesses your pet's kidneys, liver function, complete blood count, etc.

Once under anesthesia the patient is placed on their back, hair is removed from the belly with clippers and the skin is then surgically scrubbed to decrease bacterial numbers and reduce the chance of infection. An incision is made on the midline of your pet's belly . In male dogs the incision is made on one side of the prepuce/penis. Once the incsion is made and the bladder can be accessed your veterinarian will start removing the stones. After the stones are removed they are usually sent out to be analyzed. If a tumor is suspected, a sample of the bladder is cut away and sent for biopsy. If infection is suspected a piece of the bladder wall is removed and submitted for culture. Once the stones are all removed the bladder incision is sutured closed and the abdomen is then flushed  with sterile saline to remove any urine or debris that may have leaked into it during the surgery. After the abdomen is flushed the abdominal incision is then closed. 

After a cystotomy, we prescribe pain medication to ensure your pet is in no discomfort. Antibiotics may be administered if an infection is suspected. 

Home Care

Once discharged from our hospital you must follow the instructions the veterinary technician reviewed with you.

  • Restrict activity in order to allow the incision to heal
  • Leash walking
  • Give prescribed medications as directed
  • If your pet had stones in the bladder or urethra, their diet may need to change. If so, feed the recommended diet. Diets vary based upon the specific type of stones that are present. 
  • Keep a close eye on your pet and notify us if you feel anything is abnormal
  • Check incision for swelling, redness, discharge, or smell
  • Monitor your pets urination. Make sure they are not straining, have a good flow, and note color
  • An e-collar should be worn if he/she tries to get at their incision

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Cherry Ridge Veterinary Clinic Hours


7:30 am-7:30 pm


7:30 am-5:30 pm


7:30 am-5:30 pm


7:30 am-7:30 pm


7:30 am-5:30 pm


8:00 am-1:30 pm