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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What do I need to know about a bladder sling procedure?
A bladder sling procedure is surgery to treat urinary incontinence in women. The sling acts as a hammock to keep your urethra in place and hold it closed when your bladder is full. The urethra is the tube that goes from your bladder to the outside. A sling may be a thin strip of mesh placed under the urethra. The sling may instead be made from a piece of your tissue taken from your abdomen or thigh. The sling supports your urethra during physical activity or when you sneeze or cough to prevent leakage.
How do I prepare for surgery?
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. If you take aspirin or other blood thinners, you may need to stop taking them 5 to 7 days before your surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection.
What will happen during surgery?
- You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With this anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain. A small incision will be made in your vagina to insert the sling. You may also have small incisions in your lower abdomen or thigh.
- The sling will be placed under your urethra and around the area where your urethra and bladder meet. One end of the sling will be on each side of your urethra. The ends of the sling may be stitched to your abdominal wall. Small pins or screws may instead be placed in your pelvic bone to hold the sling in place. Your healthcare provider will check for correct placement of the sling. Any small incisions will be closed with stitches or medical glue. A bandage with antibiotic medicine may be put inside your vagina to help prevent infection.
What will happen after a bladder sling procedure?
You may have vaginal bleeding or discharge for up to a week after your surgery. Use sanitary pads. Do not use tampons. You may have some pelvic discomfort after your surgery. You may find it hard to urinate or it may feel different than it did before surgery. You may urinate more slowly than you did before surgery. You may need to use a catheter to empty your bladder a few times a day until your function returns. You may have a Foley catheter for a short period of time to drain your urine. You may need to avoid any activity that can strain your surgery area. This includes heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, or straining for a bowel movement.
What are the risks of a bladder sling procedure?
You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. The sling may break down and you may need another procedure to fix it. You may develop long-term pain. Your bladder or other pelvic organs may be damaged by tools or mesh used during the procedure. You will need surgery to remove the mesh and repair any damage. You may have an allergic response to the anesthesia medicine. You may have trouble urinating, or you may leak urine. You may develop urgency to urinate or urinate often. You also may have pain during or after sex. You may develop a hernia at the site where tissue was taken to make the sling. You may also have pain at the site. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.
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