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Doctor-Explaining-the-Sling-Procedure

Slings are an important tool that can be used to help women who have stress urinary incontinence.

Stress urinary incontinence, or SUI, is a condition that involves urine leaking from the bladder when physically active. The condition affects women. The physical activity creates pressure on the bladder that pushes out the urine. This occurs because the tissues and muscles supporting the urethra and bladder weaken. As a result, the neck of the bladder to descend during physical activity.

  • SUI can also occur because the sphincter muscle is not working, halting urine flow.
  • This is especially true when there is pressure on the abdomen.

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Who is a Candidate?

Potential candidates for sling surgery are women who are experiencing SUI and are finding that it interferes with their life. Even such things as coughing, sneezing, or laughing can cause urine incontinence with SUI. Women may find that this decreases their quality of life and want a solution.

How It Works

The sling works to support the bladder in order to prevent urine from leaking. There are several forms of slings:

  • A fascial sling that uses tissues from the patient’s leg or abdominal wall
  • Using tissue from a donor to create a sling
  • Implanting a man-made mesh sling

This is called a sling surgery or sling procedure.

Surgeon-Performing-Outpatient-Sling-Surgeries
Patient-with-Successful-Sling-Procedure

How Are Slings Implanted?

The most common way that slings are implanted is through a mid-urethral sling surgery. This can be accomplished in three ways:

The Retropubic Method: This is where two cuts are made inside the vagina and under the urethra. Two additional cuts are made above the pubic bone in order to insert a needle. The needle is used to insert the sling which goes under the urethra.

Transobturator Method: The same cuts are made inside the vagina and under the urethra. However, one cut is also made on each side of the labia. The sling is implanted under the urethra.

Single-Incision Mini Method: Only one cut is made in the vagina to insert the sling.

Once the sling is in place scar tissue will form around it to keep the sling in place.

What to Expect

The mid-urethral procedure is an outpatient surgery. It does not require that you stay overnight in a hospital. After the procedure you could feel pain for some time. Also, you should avoid heavy exercise, or activities that involve straining or lifting. Common side effects include difficulty urinating or urinating too often, as well as potentially developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). Pain during sexual intercourse could also be an issue. Patients who experience these issues should check with their physician. Although there are always risks for complications in any surgery, the procedure is generally safe.

Sling surgery is a simple procedure that can mean an improved quality of life. Those who are interested in the procedure should check with their physician to make sure that it is appropriate for them.

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Judy Choi, M.D.
Female Urology
Assistant Professor of Clinical Urology
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Gamal Ghoniem, M.D., FACS
Female Urology
Professor of Clinical Urology and Vice Chairman

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