Sling for Urinary Incontinence

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Sling for Urinary Incontinence

Urethral Support Systems

When the tissues of the urethra become weakened and are not functioning properly, urine can sometimes leak out through the urethral opening because those muscles are unable to close tightly. Without the needed support for those weakened urethral tissues, urinary incontinence is inevitable.

A surgical approach that is widely used today to restore continence involves the implanting of a urethral sling.  A sling is a narrow strip of material that the surgeon positions under the urethra to support its natural tissues, allowing it to function as intended. The implanted sling acts much like a hammock, providing extra support of the urethra to prevent accidental leakage.

There are two basic types of urethral slings used today; man-made and natural tissue. Both types work very well in restoring continence, so your doctor’s choice of sling is generally based upon what he or she believes is the right material for your anatomy.

Overview of the Urethral Sling Procedure

In most cases, a urethral sling can be implanted within about 20 minutes. Placement of a sling is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, often requiring only a single vaginal incision. With some devices, tiny incisions in the abdomen or inner thigh may also be required. Your physician will choose the anesthesia best suited to your condition and general health: either local, regional, or general anesthesia. The sling is inserted under the urethra to provide the necessary support to prevent involuntary leakage of urine, and it then self-anchors securely in place.

After the procedure

You may be able to return home in just a few hours after the procedure is performed. All incisions will be small and should heal quickly. Your physician will most likely advise you that for approximately four to six weeks, you should avoid sexual intercourse, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. Your physician will provide you with specific information on how to care for yourself after the procedure.

Are there risks with a procedure using a urethral sling?

As with any surgical procedure, the sling procedure itself has the risk of certain complications such as the use of anesthesia, the surgical approach used, and how pre-existing conditions may affect the outcome. Your physician can further explain your specific risks and can provide a list of warnings associated with the procedure.

Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with the use of a permanent mesh, man-made or natural tissue implant. Complications can include localized fluid collection (blood, pus, clear serous fluid), erosion of the graft into surrounding tissues, infection, inflammation, pain (including pain with intercourse), perforation of neighboring tissues or organs, difficulty urinating, and failure of the procedure resulting in recurrence of incontinence. Given the permanency of a mesh implant,

post-procedure removal of the implant may be difficult. Additionally, repair of stress urinary incontinence using a mesh implant should not be undertaken if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.

Overview of the urethral sling Procedure

In most cases, a urethral sling can be implanted within about 20 minutes. Placement of a sling is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, often requiring only a single vaginal incision. With some devices, tiny incisions in the abdomen or inner thigh may also be required. Your physician will choose the anesthesia best suited to your condition and general health: either local, regional, or general anesthesia. The sling is inserted under the urethra to provide the necessary support to prevent involuntary leakage of urine, and it then self-anchors securely in place.

After the procedure

You may be able to return home in just a few hours after the procedure is performed. All incisions will be small and should heal quickly. Your physician will most likely advise you that for approximately four to six weeks, you should avoid sexual intercourse, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. Your physician will provide you with specific information on how to care for yourself after the procedure.

Are there risks with a procedure using a urethral sling?

As with any surgical procedure, the sling procedure itself has the risk of certain complications such as the use of anesthesia, the surgical approach used, and how pre-existing conditions may affect the outcome. Your physician can further explain your specific risks and can provide a list of warnings associated with the procedure.

Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with the use of a permanent mesh, man-made or natural tissue implant. Complications can include localized fluid collection (blood, pus, clear serous fluid), erosion of the graft into surrounding tissues, infection, inflammation, pain including pain with intercourse), perforation of neighboring tissues or organs, difficulty urinating, and failure of the procedure resulting in recurrence of incontinence. Given the permanency of a mesh implant, post-procedure removal of the implant may be difficult. Additionally, repair of stress urinary incontinence using a mesh implant should not be undertaken if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. If you experience any complications, please notify your physician immediately. Speak with your physician regarding his/her experience with this procedure, and the anticipated probability of any of these complications.

Are there benefits to a procedure using a urethral sling?

Urethral slings have been used safely in medical procedures for decades and despite the risk of complications, the use of a urethral sling for stress urinary incontinence has been shown to be an effective, long-term method of repair. The sling incorporates easily and permanently into your own tissues and acts to strengthen and restore continence function, helping reduce the risk of a recurrence.

What results can be expected?

Urethral slings have had an impressive performance record over the years. They have been used successfully in hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S. Dr. Nelson has personally performed over 500 midurethral sling procedures, more than any other gynecologist in Boulder County.  Call (720) 494-3130 to schedule a consultation and end your embarrasing incontinence problem.