Bladder sling surgery may benefit women suffering from SUI (“stress urinary incontinence”) which is the leakage of urine when the bladder goes through physical stress such as exercise or even coughing and sneezing.
Unfortunately SUI can happen to the majority of women whose pelvic floor muscles become weak or the bladder becomes overactive after a hysterectomy , through childbirth, age or simply being overweight.
Many doctors recommend Kegel exercises in order to strengthen muscles to correct SUI as well as drugs that can improve bladder control.
Luckily, the procedure can help immensely. This simple and quick out-patient surgery can be performed under general anesthetic and takes about 30 minutes. Most patients respond well to treatment and have a quick recovery and a 90% cure rate.
The surgery is the most common type of surgery used to treat SUI. Surgeons use strips of body tissue or synthetic material to make a sling which is placed around the bladder neck and the urethra. This sling gives support and keeps the urethra closed to prevent unnecessary leakage.
There are different types of bladder slings and procedures and your doctor will discuss with you which option will be best.
These slings are generally made from synthetic strips of mesh and are held in place with the body’s own tissue so no internal stitches are needed.
There are also different ways to approach this procedure:
A small incision is made inside the vagina underneath the urethra and two small openings are made above the pubic bone. The surgeon then uses a needle that is holding the sling to place it inside the body. A few absorbable stitches, glue or sutures may be used to close the small vaginal incision. A different approach can be used where the surgeon will make a similar incision but will insert the needle next to the labia which is then threaded under the urethra.
It is very rare but there can be serious complications with this procedure such as infection.
There are some adjustable slings being tested which are placed while the patient is awake and doctors can adjust the sling's tension according to the patient’s requirements. Adjustments can also be made at later stages under local anesthetic.
Conventional Bladder Slings
Conventional bladder slings can be made from synthetic material or from your own body tissue, animal tissue or tissue from a donor. This sling is inserted through a small abdominal incision and is attached to pelvic tissue or to the abdominal wall with stitches. Some patients may require a larger incision in this procedure and may have to stay in the hospital overnight.
How Does the Bladder Sling Work?
The newly inserted sling becomes a permanent feature and settles in with the body tissue resulting in a newer and firmer ligament. This replaces the old, weaker ligament and supports the urethra preventing incontinence.
•Quick recovery (in most cases)
•High cure rate
•No more embarrassing accidents and
•No more uncomfortable pads.
After surgery most women will experience vaginal spotting. There is also a low risk of:
•Mesh exposure in the vaginal area and
After surgery patients should take full rest for at least three days, refrain from physical activity for 2-3 weeks and shouldn’t take baths or have sexual intercourse for about six weeks. It is also advisable not to lift anything heavy and not to strain during bowel movements as this can detach or stretch the sling..
The urine stream may be a little slower than usual after surgery, but will usually correct itself after the first few months. Any scarring should fade after several months.
Stress urinary incontinence can certainly be embarrassing for a lot of women and can limit many of the activities they would normally enjoy. A simple bladder sling procedure can change all that and after only a short period of recuperation they can begin to take part in the things they have missed out on for so long.
Karlovsky, ME. (2009) Slings: What are the Risks, Benefits and Recovery?
http://femaleurologyaz.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/sings-what-are-risks-benefits-and.html [Accessed 04/29/2012]
What is a bladder sling? http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_bladder_sling [Accessed 04/29/2012]
Wessells, H. (2007) Incontinence after Hysterectomy http://www.everydayhealth.com/specialists/urology/wessells/qa/incontinence-after-hysterectomy/index.aspx# [Accessed 04/29/2012]
(2011) Urinary Incontinence Surgery: When Other Treatments aren’t enough http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/urinary-incontinence-surgery/WO00126 [Accessed 04/30/2012]
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