Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

"Life Is So Much Easier": A Family's Experience with Bladder Augmentation

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

"Life Is So Much Easier": A Family's Experience with Bladder Augmentation

Article excerpt

A family's experience with bladder augmentation

Lisa Brandenburg, 9, from Frederick, Maryland, underwent bladder augmentation surgery last year. Born with spina bifida, Lisa had a vesicostomy when she was an infant because her bladder was not big enough, and a problem with the bladder neck allowed urine to reflux back into her kidneys.

Due to the vesicostomy (a surgically created opening below the navel through which urine drains continually) she had to be kept in diapers, and there was a constant losing battle to keep her and her clothes dry. Not only that, as Lisa got older, it became very difficult to find places where her diaper could be changed away from home. Lisa uses a wheelchair and must be transferred to a changing table to have her diaper changed. Changing tables in public restrooms are not made to accommodate larger children. According to Lisa's mom, Ruthie, however, most important was that Lisa did not want to be in a diaper. Ruthie remarks that Lisa wanted to be independent and have control and privacy in the bathroom.

Lisa's doctors decided that a bladder augmentation might be a solution. Lisa had to undergo numerous tests of her bladder and kidneys to determine if she was even a candidate for bladder augmentation. Ruthie remembers that Lisa was extremely eager to have the operation.

The operation uses body tissues to make a "patch" to enlarge the bladder, and then a new passage is made for the urine to leave the body through an opening called a stoma. The stoma is usually placed though the navel, but it can be placed in other locations, depending on individual preference and convenience.

Ruthie felt that before the bladder augmentation was performed, Lisa should be in good health, strong, and have an adequate body weight. Ruthie remembers that her family started preparing for Lisa's surgery about one year before it took place.

The surgical procedure, which normally takes about 6 to 8 hours, ended up taking 18 hours for Lisa. The problem was that Lisa's appendix, with which the surgeons had planned to construct a new bladder, was too small. They then had to use a piece of her lower (bowel) intestine for the bladder augmentation, and created the stoma using her appendix.

After her surgery, Lisa was in the hospital for about 10 days. She had a foley catheter (a soft, thin, rubber tube with a balloon on the end that is inserted into the bladder and used to drain urine) and an emergency catheter. …

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