Q:

Does bladder surgery often cause incontinence?

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Quick Answer

The likelihood of bladder surgery causing incontinence depends on the type pf bladder surgery and the number of previous bladder surgeries a patient has undergone, according to the American Cancer Society. Patients who receive surgery to remove bladder tumors often have a recurrence of bladder cancer, and each subsequent bladder surgery can reduce the bladder's ability to hold urine, therefore increasing the likelihood of urinary incontinence.

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Full Answer

Most patients diagnosed with bladder cancer initially have a superficial or non-muscle invasive variety that can be treated with a transurethral surgery, states the ACS. This surgery is conducted through the urethra and does not require cutting into the abdomen, but still involves the removal of a small amount of bladder tissue by way of a wire loop. When this tissue is removed, it reduces the overall volumetric capacity of the bladder and thereby increases the likelihood of urine leakage/. For more aggressive types of cancer, a cystectomy may be performed, in which a large portion of the bladder is removed. This has an increased likelihood of resulting in urinary incontinence.

Sometimes the entire bladder must be removed to prevent the return of cancer, explains the ACS. When this happens, reconstructive surgery is necessary to produce an alternative way for the body to excrete urine. These alternative excretion methods can often result in a degree of urinary incontinence.

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