Urethral Suspension - Retropubic Procedure
Stress incontinence is one of the many causes of uncontrolled leaking of urine. Urethral suspension is a surgery to correct incontinence in women.
The incontinence is most often caused by weakening of the pelvic muscles that normally keep the bladder in position. The muscles may be weakened by:
Female Bladder and Urethra
Reasons for Procedure
The goal of this surgery is to provide extra support to the urethra, which gives more resistance against leakage. This will stop the uncontrolled leaking of urine.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a urethral suspension, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Inability to urinate
- Continued incontinence or recurrence of the problem
- Damage to other nearby organs or blood vessels
- Pain, such as during sexual intercourse
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
- Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will try to find out why you are leaking urine through some or all of the following:
- Medical history—information about medications, illnesses, number of pregnancies, and previous surgeries; pattern of leaking and how it is affecting your life
- Urine sample—to look for the presence of infection or other problems
- Physical exam—includes a rectal and vaginal exam
Additional testing may be ordered to evaluate bladder function and urine flow, such as:
- Urodynamic testing (urine flow studies)—a temporary catheter is placed to study bladder function
- Cystoscopy —a procedure done to view the inside of the bladder
Leading up to surgery:
- Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
- Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
Description of Procedure
An incision will be made in the lower abdomen. Sutures will be placed near the bladder and urethra. The threads of the sutures will then be secured to the pelvic bone or other structures in the pelvis. This supports the bladder by forming a cradle for it.
Immediately After Procedure
After surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery room. You will most likely have a catheter in place to drain your urine.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will block pain during the surgery. After surgery, you may experience some pain or soreness. You will be given pain medication to relieve discomfort.
At the Hospital
At first, your urine may look bloody. This will resolve over time. When you are able to empty your bladder completely, the catheter will be removed. You may be up and walking the same day or the day after surgery.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incisions
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Trouble urinating
- Pain, burning, urgency, or frequency while urinating
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Continence Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Surgical management of urinary incontinence. American Urological Association website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=33. Updated January 2011. Accessed October 27, 2014.
Surgical mesh. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.augs.org/p/cm/ld/fid=163. Published January 4, 2012. Accessed October 27, 2014.
Surgical treatment for female stress urinary incontinence. National Association for Continence website. Available at: http://www.nafc.org/bladder-bowel-health/types-of-incontinence/stress-incontinence/surgical-treatment-for-female-stress-urinary-incontinence. Accessed October 27, 2014.
Townsend MK, Danforth KN, et al. Physical activity and incident urinary incontinence in middle-aged women. J Urol. 2008;179:1012-1016; discussion 1016-1017.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.