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Urethral Bulking for Urinary Incontinence

Urethral bulking to treat urinary incontinence involves injecting material around the urethra camera.gif. This may be done to:

  • Close a hole in the urethra through which urine leaks out.
  • Build up the thickness of the wall of the urethra so it seals tightly when you hold back urine.

Most bulking materials are injected around the urethra just outside the muscle of the urethra at the bladder outlet. Injecting the bulking material may be done through the skin, through the urethra or, in women, through the vagina. Needle placement is guided by the use of a cystoscope inserted into the urethra.

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

OAB Questions For and From Your Doctor

If your daily schedule is dictated by frequent and sudden urinary urges that leave you scrambling for the nearest bathroom, and you haven't already been to see your doctor -- it's time to make an appointment to get your overactive bladder treated. Whether you see a primary care doctor, internal medicine practitioner, urologist, or gynecologist doesn't matter. What does matter is that you get help for symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequent urination, waking up often during the night to urinate,...

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Urethral bulking procedures are usually done under local anesthesia in women, but men may require a general or regional anesthesia. A local anesthetic allows the person to stand up after an injection to find out if continence has been achieved. If continence has not been restored, another injection may be done immediately.

The surgery is used mostly for women and sometimes for men.

What To Expect After Surgery

Most urethral bulking injections can be done in a doctor's office or surgery center. They rarely require a hospital stay. You may need to take it easy for a few days afterward.

Why It Is Done

Urethral bulking may be done to treat:

How Well It Works

Urethral bulking may work for some women. But fewer than 4 out of 10 women have long-term benefits.1

Risks

The main risks related to urethral bulking are pain at the injection site, injury to the urethra, and migration of the bulking material.

What To Think About

This surgery is used mostly for women and sometimes for men.

This treatment method avoids the risks associated with abdominal surgery.

Before having urethral bulking treatment, ask your doctor about the following:

  • How much success has the doctor had in treating incontinence with surgery? The success of surgical procedures for urinary incontinence depends on the experience and skill of the surgeon.
  • Is there anything I can do to increase the likelihood of a successful surgery? Losing weight, quitting smoking, or doing pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises before surgery may increase the likelihood of regaining continence after surgery.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Citations

  1. American Urological Association (2009). Guideline for the surgical management of female stress urinary incontinence: Update (2009). Available online: http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/clinical-guidelines.cfm.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
Last Revised September 11, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 11, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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