Urinary diversion

A urinary diversion is a type of surgery. It means making a new way for you to pass urine if your bladder has been removed.

What is a urinary diversion?

A urinary diversion is a type of surgery. It means making a new way for you to pass urine (pee) if your bladder has been removed. It is done at the same time as the surgery to remove the bladder (cystectomy). This may be part of your treatment for bladder cancer.

There are different urinary diversion options. We have more information about the following types:

  • Urostomy – this is also called ileal conduit urinary diversion or sometimes incontinent urinary diversion.

Each type of urinary diversion is different. Before your surgery, your surgeon or specialist nurse will talk to you about which type may be best for you. They will explain how you care for and manage each type.

You may feel anxious or worried about having a urinary diversion. But it is important to understand what living with a urinary diversion is like. Asking questions before your operation can help. 

Getting support

  • Your nurse or an organisation such as The Urostomy Association may be able to arrange for you to meet someone who already has a urinary diversion. 
  • You can also visit our Online Community bladder cancer forum. You may be able to talk to someone who is living with a urinary diversion, or read about their experiences.

Living with a urinary diversion

Getting used to a urinary diversion and learning to look after it takes time. Like anything new, it will get easier with time and practice.

Your specialist nurse will give you lots of support before and after your operation. They will show you how to care for and manage the type of urinary diversion you have.

Going home

Before you leave the hospital, the nurse will make sure you have the equipment you need. Depending on the type of urinary diversion, this may include urostomy bags or catheters. 

When you are at home, you can get your equipment directly from a supplier or your chemist. Your GP, district nurse or specialist nurse can tell you more about this. The Urostomy Association can also give you details of suppliers.

When you get home, you will still be able to speak to your specialist nurse for advice. They may also arrange for a district nurse or a community stoma nurse to visit you when you first leave the hospital. They can help you cope with any problems.

About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Ursula McGovern, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 November 2022
Next review: 01 November 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

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