When it comes to urinary incontinence — that is, the inability to control the flow of one’s urine — every patient’s experience is unique. In addition to there being different challenges for women and men, there are also a variety of reasons the problem may be occurring.
Plus, some urinary incontinence may be temporary, such as incontinence caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). Other times, it is ongoing and could become worse over time if not treated.
When a Surgical Procedure Is Needed for Urinary Incontinence
Doctors use a number of different treatments for urinary incontinence, ranging from medications to self-care practices designed to strengthen the muscles. But if medications or non-surgical treatments don’t lead to improvement, surgery can be used to treat urinary incontinence. Surgery typically offers a permanent solution.
A doctor will explain the available procedures and discuss which is best for the patient. In offering this recommendation, the doctor will have to take a number of factors into consideration, such as the patient’s overall health and existing damage to the urinary tract or surrounding tissues.
Here are some common procedures used to treat urinary incontinence:
Artificial Urinary Sphincter Placement (for Men)
Urethral sphincters are the muscles that control the release of urine from the bladder. When the urethral sphincters are contracted, this blocks the opening of the bladder, preventing urine from leaking out. When functioning properly, the urethral sphincters remain contracted until a person urinates, at which point, the sphincters relax. In males who cannot voluntarily control urination, one surgical option is implantation of an artificial urinary sphincter (AUS). During an AUS procedure, the doctor makes small incisions near the scrotum and below the abdomen. Next, an inflatable urethral cuff, pump and balloon are inserted. After the procedure, the patient will then be able to urinate by squeezing and releasing a small pump located in the scrotum. This causes fluid to pass from the cuff into the balloon, allowing the cuff to expand and the urethra to open so the patient can urinate.
Bladder Neck Suspension (for Women)
Stress incontinence is a term used to describe an involuntary emission of urine when there is sudden pressure on the bladder and abdomen, such as when sneezing, laughing or jumping. It is one of the most common types of incontinence issues experienced by women. To correct stress incontinence, a doctor can perform a bladder neck suspension. This procedure involves the physician pulling up or “suspending” the bladder neck to give it greater support, then attaching it to the surrounding bone or tissue. This protects against urine leakage.
Sling Procedures (for Men and Women)
Both men and women can have sling procedures. Slings are made of soft mesh that is inserted permanently into the body.
- For Men – The sling is inserted to reposition the urethral sphincter muscle. This supports the muscle and helps stop bladder leakage. During the procedure, the doctor makes a small incision between the scrotum and anus. Next, he or she places the sling around part of the urethra. The sling repositions and squeezes the urethra, which helps the sphincter function properly.
- For Women – Women can also have a sling procedure to stop or lessen urinary incontinence. In women, the sling is positioned so it raises and supports the urethra as well as the neck of the bladder. There are several approaches a doctor can use for the procedure that are performed on an outpatient basis and typically take just a half an hour.
Improved Quality of Life
Treating urinary incontinence with a surgical procedure can lead to a much better quality of life. If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss your options.