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Surgical exploration of the urinary bladder for stone removal is called “cystotomy”. This procedure involves making an incision in the urinary bladder, evaluation of the bladder tissues and physical removal of stones.

What happens during a Cystotomy?

A sample of the bladder lining is typically submitted for bacterial culture and sensitivity to evaluate for UTI. X-rays are taken after surgery to ensure that all stones have been removed. The stones are submitted for analysis to determine what they are made of. This information helps us to make recommendations for diet and medicine to help prevent the formation of stones in the future. Fortunately, the urinary bladder is one of the fastest healing tissues in the body and tolerates surgery very well.


If stones are also stuck in the urethra, they are flushed back into the bladder with a urinary catheter prior to surgery so they can be removed at the same time. In male dogs, the stones can become lodged in the penile urethra and cannot be removed. In those situations, an incision into the urethra is made to remove the stone, or a procedure called “scrotal urethrostomy” may be performed to create a new opening in the urethra before the blockage. This surgery involves creating a new opening in the urethra before the stone blockage to allow for normal urine flow.


  • Your pet may have some blood in the urine, urinate more frequently, and may strain to urinate for 3-5 days after cystotomy surgery due to the inflammation of the bladder from surgery.

  • E-collar at all times for 2 weeks, until skin incision check.

  • Exercise restriction for 2 weeks: no off-leash activity allowed, no play, no jumping on/off furniture

  • Pain medication will be prescribed, and antibiotics may be described if a UTI is present or suspected

  • Bladder culture results are typically back in 2-4 days from surgery.

  • Stone analysis results are typically back within 2 weeks from surgery.

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