Bladder suspension is a surgery to reduce or correct stress incontinence in women. This process uses stitches to support the bladder and urethra. The bladder is the organ that collects urine. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
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Stress incontinence is uncontrolled leaking of urine. Muscles in the pelvis support the bladder and urethra. When these muscles are weakened, these structures can fall out of position. This makes it difficult to prevent urine leakage from the bladder when there is pressure on the bladder, such as coughing. The vaginal wall is also close to the bladder and urethra. If the vaginal walls are weak, the bladder and urethra may not work properly.
A bladder suspension lifts the bladder and urethra by securing it to nearby pelvic structures like to the pelvic bone. Lifting the bladder makes it easier for the bladder to close to stop urine leakage into the urethra.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a bladder suspension, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
A series of tests will be done to determine the cause of incontinence. Surgery is only considered after other nonsurgical treatments have been tried. The results from the tests may also be used to prepare for surgery.
Leading up to surgery:
The choice of anesthesia will depend on the doctor, your specific procedure, your medical history, and your preferences. You may receive one of the following:
The exact steps to the surgery will depend on your overall health and amount of support that is needed. Options for the doctor to gain access to the area include:
Once the area is available, sutures will be made to secure the organs to the pelvis. These sutures will then be anchored to the strong ligaments on the front of the pelvis. The sutures will be set to lift and support the structures. Once the sutures are in place, the doctor will test to make sure the structures are in the desired position. After the placement is confirmed, the incisions will be closed with sutures or surgical glue.
After surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery room. A catheter will be in place to allow the urinary tract to rest and to drain the urine.
Anesthesia will block pain during the surgery. After surgery, you may experience some pain or soreness. You will be given pain medication to relieve discomfort.
You may be sent home the same day if there are no complications.
The catheter will be removed once urine is passing as expected. Walking will be encouraged early to promote healing and decrease the risk of certain complications.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
There will be some activity limits after the procedure. Lifting and strenuous exercise will be limited for 6 weeks.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Continence Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Bladder and urethral surgeries. Intermountain Healthcare website. Available at: http://intermountainhealthcare.org/ext/Dcmnt?ncid=520693119. Accessed November 18, 2015.
Surgical mesh. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.augs.org/p/cm/ld/fid=163. Updated January 4, 2012. Accessed November 18, 2015.
Urinary incontinence. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-incontinence. Accessed November 18, 2015.
Townsend MK, Danforth KN, et al. Physical activity and incident urinary incontinence in middle-aged women. J Urol. 2008;179:1012-1016; discussion 1016-1017.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 5/18/2015