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Cystotomy in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Cystotomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in cats. The procedure gives the surgeon access to the inside of the urinary bladder so that an underlying disorder can be treated or diagnosed.

Occasionally, cats form abnormal crystals in their urine secondary to a systemic illness, bladder infection, or nutritional imbalance. These crystals can grow to become solid calculi (stones) that can cause bladder irritation or infection. Additionally, stones may become lodged within the urethra and prevent the cat from being able to urinate. The presence of stones may cause your pet to urinate small volumes frequently; to have blood-tinged urine; to strain to urinate; or to be unable to urinate. Cystotomy allows these stones to be removed.

Ectopic ureters are also treated through a cystotomy. Ectopic ureter is primarily a condition of young cats where one or both ureters, the tube that normally carries urine formed in the kidneys to the bladder, open into an abnormal location. This can cause urinary incontinence (urine dribbling). If surgical correction is pursued, the repair procedure is done through an incision into the bladder.

The inside of the bladder may also be accessed to assist in the diagnosis of suspected bladder tumors. A sample of the abnormal tissue may be removed for biopsy or, if the mass is small, a portion of the bladder wall can be removed (partial cystectomy).

In some cases of severe, non-responsive urinary tract infections it may be necessary to open the bladder to obtain tissue samples for a more accurate culture. This will assist your veterinarian in determining which microorganisms are causing the infection so that an effective antibiotic can be prescribed.

The cystotomy procedure has few complications associated with it and is well tolerated by most animals.

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