Bladder, Prostate and Urinary Tract Surgery


Bladder drainage systems (catheters) have bulbs or balloons that require inflating in order to secure them in place. A diver with one of these should ensure that the bulb does not contain air but it should be inflated with water or saline.

Frequency of urination, as is often seen in men with prostate enlargement and women with bladder problems related to childbirth, should not be a significant problem with the diver. ‘Peeing’ in the wet suit is not a forbidden or unforgiveable act and is not harmful.


Other than the symptoms of dysuria, frequency of urination and urgency that make this condition so unpleasant there are few caveats concerning diving. However, the medications used to traet this condition can cause considerable difficulty.

One of the prominent non-surgical therapies for an enlarged prostate is a group of drugs called alpha blockers, an old blood pressure medication. Two tradenames are ‘Hytrin’ and ‘Flomax’. They are quite effective in relieving symptoms but have a major side effect – they cause significant nasal mucosal congestion and can be a cause of extreme difficulty in equalizing while scuba diving.

Another side effect is hypotension; what effect the changes that take place in immersion would have on the diver on this medication would need careful titration and observation for the first few dives.

Diving after urinary tract surgery

  • Should await clearance by the operating surgeon
  • Post op wait depends on the type and extent of surgery done
  • Surgical incisions should be completely healed without infection, drainage or herniation
  • Ostomies and appliances should contain no air that cannot be vented
  • All medications should be carefully evaluated for symptoms dangerous in the underwater environment
  • All postoperative anemia should be corrected


Ernest S. Campbell, M.D., FACS

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