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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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New Help for Incontinence

New devices are alleviating this embarrassing problem.

Tension-Free Tape

After one unsuccessful surgery, Cayton decided to try a procedure known as tension-free transvaginal tape (TVT). In this procedure, a surgeon makes an incision in the vaginal wall and inserts a synthetic tape, usually made of prolene, between the vaginal and abdominal walls. In four to six weeks, tissue grows around the tape and holds it in place. The tape, in turn, supports the neck of the bladder.

"The tape creates a supporting sling so the urethra can be more easily squeezed shut," says Carl G. Klutke, M.D., associate professor of Urologic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

In a recent Norwegian study, 84 women (aged 34 to 78 years) with proven stress incontinence had the TVT procedure. Four months after the surgery, 79 out of 82 patients (96%) were cured or had improved considerably, and no serious complications occurred during a year and a half of follow-up. TVT, however, is not without risks. Occasional cases of tissue perforation, infection, and erosion (when the tape is expelled from the body because it is rejected) have been reported. The researchers concluded that further long-term studies should be conducted.

For Cayton, though, the procedure has made a big difference. Now when she takes to the open road, her qualms are a thing of the past.

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