Cystotomy/Bladder Stone Removal

Description: Cystotomy is a surgical procedure performed by making an incision into the urinary bladder.  This procedure is used for the removal of stones within the bladder lumen.  It is also indicated to obtain biopsies of bladder masses.

What to look for:  straining to urinate, urinating small amounts frequently, dribbling urine, vocalizing while urinating, blood-tinged urine.

How does it happen? Bladder stones can form due to chronic urinary tract infections, they may be diet related, or there may be a genetic component.

Dog Teeth

What questions do we ask?

  • What changes has your pet experienced at home? (straining, change in color, increased frequency, etc.)

  • How long have these changes been going on?

  • Does your pet have a history of urinary abnormalities?

What are the steps we take to treat your pet?

  • The first step in diagnosing and treating your pet is taking a thorough history and performing a complete physical examination. Occasionally bladder stones can be diagnosed through abdominal palpation.

  • A urinalysis will be performed to look for changes in pH level, presence of crystals or signs of infection. The urinalysis will help us better determine what type of stone is present in the bladder.

  • Abdominal radiographs may be performed to diagnose and/or confirm the presence of stones within the bladder lumen or urethra.

  • Once all of the information is obtained, we will determine the most appropriate treatment plans.

What are potential treatment plans?

Medical Management:

  • An antibiotic may be prescribed if an infection is identified on the urinalysis.  Some stones form in the presence of an infection so it is important to identify and treat when indicated.

    Bladder stones tend to create a lot of inflammation in the bladder and result in a painful response for your pet. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication will likely be prescribed.

    Some stones can be dissolved by diet alone; therefore, a dissolution diet may be prescribed.

Surgical Management:

  • An incision is made into the bladder to remove the stones. Any stones that may have moved into the urethra are moved back into the bladder for removal.

    Stones are then submitted for testing to determine the exact composition and establish a prevention and monitoring protocol

What results have we seen


What are the risks if a cystotomy is not performed for the removal of bladder stones:

  • If left untreated, bladder stones will continue to grow causing difficulty urinating and eventually make urination impossible.  An inability to urinate is an emergency and can be life-threatening if not immediately addressed.

  • Persistent bladder stones can also lead to chronic pain and increase the incidence of urinary tract infections.


Animal Doctor Provider

Dr. Jennifer Arneson