Cystotomy in Small Mammals

Cystotomy is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made into the urinary bladder. The procedure can be done for many reasons, the most common being to facilitate removal of bladder and urethral stones. Other indications include helping to diagnose bladder tumors and treat ruptured bladders. This procedure is most often performed in rabbits and ferrets but may be necessary in other small mammals.

The procedure itself has relatively few complications. Pets must be placed under general anesthesia for a cystotomy. Thus, pre-anesthetic bloodwork may be performed before surgery to ensure that your pet is healthy and to help your veterinarian determine the best anesthetic regime to use.

The cystotomy is performed through an incision on your pet's belly which is located towards the rear of the abdomen. The bladder is isolated and an incision is made.

Once the bladder has been accessed, your veterinarian removes the stones and so they can be analyzed for their composition; collects samples and cultures; or repairs the bladder wall. The bladder incision is sutured and the abdomen is flushed to remove any urine that may have leaked into it during the procedure. The abdominal incision is then closed.

After a cystotomy, your pet may be given pain-killers (analgesics) and antibiotics may be administered if infection is suspected or confirmed.

Home Care

After your pet has been released from the hospital you must restrict his activity in order to allow the incision to heal. Keep your pet confined to a small area or cage where it is safe.

To ensure your pet's comfort your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or pain-killers (analgesics) for the first few days after surgery.

If your pet had stones in the bladder or urethra, his diet may need to be changed. Diet recommendations vary based upon the specific type of stones that are present.

Watch your pet closely for potential complications after surgery. Observe the incision twice daily for redness, swelling or discharge from the incision. Note the urine color and whether it appears to be blood-tinged. Also, determine whether your pet is urinating easily or appears to strain when urinating. If you have any concerns, contact your veterinarian immediately.