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Incontinence surgery, also known as urinary incontinence surgery, refers to a group of surgical procedures designed to treat urinary incontinence—a condition characterized by the involuntary loss of urine. These surgeries aim to improve or restore bladder control.

When it is Performed

Incontinence surgery is typically performed when conservative treatments, such as lifestyle modifications, pelvic floor exercises, and medications, have proven ineffective in managing urinary incontinence. The exact timing of the surgery depends on the type and severity of incontinence and the patient's preferences.

Purpose Of The Procedure

The primary purposes of incontinence surgery are:

Improved Bladder Control

To alleviate or eliminate urinary incontinence and regain control over bladder function.

Enhanced Quality Of Life

To improve the patient's overall quality of life by addressing the physical and emotional impact of incontinence.

What is expected to be performed

There are various surgical procedures to treat urinary incontinence, and the choice of procedure depends on the type and cause of incontinence. Common procedures include:

Sling Procedures

The placement of a supportive "sling" under the urethra or bladder neck to provide support and improve closure during moments of stress (e.g., coughing or sneezing).

Bladder Neck Suspension

The suspension of the bladder neck and urethra to reposition and stabilize them.

Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS)

Implantation of a device that mimics the function of the urinary sphincter, allowing the patient to control urine flow.

Bulking Agent Injections

The injection of a substance around the urethra to increase resistance and prevent urine leakage.

Neuromodulation (InterStim)

Implantation of a device that sends electrical impulses to the nerves controlling bladder function to improve control.

Anesthesia

The choice of anesthesia (general or regional) depends on the specific procedure and patient factors.

Incisions

Incisions vary depending on the surgical approach. Some procedures are minimally invasive, requiring small incisions, while others may involve larger incisions and some procedures are done through vagina.

Surgical Instruments And Equipment

Surgical instruments may include scopes, sutures, sling materials, or specialized devices for implantation (e.g., AUS).

Duration Of Surgery

The length of incontinence surgery varies based on the chosen procedure but often ranges from 30 minutes to a few hours.

Intraoperative Monitoring

Monitoring equipment, including ECG and blood pressure monitors, is used to ensure the patient's safety during surgery.

Potential Complications

Potential complications of incontinence surgery may include:

  • Infection at incision sites.
  • Bleeding
  • Urinary retention or difficulty voiding.
  • Device-related issues (e.g., AUS malfunction).
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Changes in urinary function.

Expected Outcomes

Expected outcomes depend on the type of incontinence and the success of the surgical procedure. Most patients experience significant improvement in bladder control following surgery.

– Alternatives to Surgery

Before considering surgery, conservative treatments such as pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle modifications, and medications should be explored. These may be effective for some individuals with incontinence.

– Scarring

The extent and visibility of scarring depend on the type of surgery. Minimally invasive procedures often result in smaller, less noticeable scars.

Post-Operative Care

Post-operative care includes:

  • Pain management.
  • Recovery instructions, including activity restrictions.
  • Follow-up appointments for monitoring and assessment.
  • Rehabilitation or physical therapy in some cases.

– Hospital Stay

The length of hospital stay varies but is often short for minimally invasive procedures. Some procedures may be performed as outpatient surgeries.

Recovery Time

Recovery time depends on the type of surgery and individual factors but generally follows this pattern:

  1. Immediate recovery : Patients may experience discomfort or pain.
  2. Return to light activities : Within a few days to a few weeks.
  3. Full recovery : Over several weeks to a few months, during which patients should follow post-operative instructions for optimal healing and bladder control.
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