Bladder suspension refers to surgery that helps place a sagging bladder back into its normal position. Is this type of surgery right for you? Here are answers to some of the most common questions, from who may need this procedure to possible complications.
Why Is Bladder Suspension Surgery Done?
Bladder suspension (or bladder neck suspension) surgery is a procedure used to treat urine leakage that occurs when a person sneezes, laughs, or coughs -- a condition called stress incontinence. Childbirth, as well as hormonal changes that come with menopause, can cause a woman to lose muscle tone along the pelvic floor. That can lead to stress incontinence and, if you decide to do it, bladder suspension surgery.
Who Needs Bladder Suspension Surgery?
Your doctor may recommend bladder suspension surgery if you have moderate to severe stress incontinence that does not get better with non-invasive treatments such as Kegel exercises, medications, and electrical stimulation.
For example, bladder suspension surgery may be an option if you develop stress incontinence because of:
- Problems with the muscles in the bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine from the body)
The number of women having stress incontinence surgery more than doubled between 1979 and 2004. Today, more than 100,000 women have this type of surgery each year. However, the procedure may also be done in men who develop stress incontinence after having all or part of their prostate gland removed.
Before considering bladder suspension surgery, make sure your symptoms are actually brought on by stress incontinence. If need be, seek a second opinion. Bladder suspension surgery only helps treat stress incontinence. It is not helpful for other forms of incontinence. The No. 1 reason surgery fails is an incorrect diagnosis.
Types of Bladder Suspension Surgery
There are different ways to place the bladder back to its normal position. Bladder suspension surgical techniques include:
- Open retropubic suspension surgery
- Laparoscopic retropubic suspension surgery
- Needle bladder neck suspension surgery
Open retropubic suspension surgery involves pulling up the bladder neck and sewing it to the surrounding bone or tissue with sutures. It is a form of abdominal surgery. The surgeon makes an incision in the belly area a few inches below the belly button and locates the bladder and urethra, the tube through which urine flows out of the body. The procedure improves symptoms of stress incontinence that result from sagging of the bladder neck or urethra.
Laparoscopic retropubic suspension surgery has been around since the early 1990s. It uses a smaller incision than the open procedure. However, some studies show that laparoscopic bladder suspension results in a higher complication rate, and that the open technique tends to produce higher cure rates. Recent research suggests that these procedures could allow for a speedier recovery and offer other advantages, but more research is needed to check long-term safety and effectiveness.