Mid-urethral slings have become the most common method to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI). They are typically placed in under 30 minutes in an outpatient setting and are popular with patients due to the high cure rate, relative ease of placement, low complication rate and quick recovery.
The sling acts like a backboard and supports the urethra during straining maneuvers such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping and exercise. It prevents it from descending, thereby preventing urine loss.
Benefits of slings
If you’re considering a urethral support sling to treat stress urinary incontinence, consider these important benefits shared by women and their doctors:
- They’re effective for most women
- Many women regain complete bladder control within hours of their procedure
- In most cases, women can return to normal, non-strenuous activities shortly after the procedure
- Depending on the specific type of procedure, they may be performed under local, regional, or general anesthesia on an out-patient basis
- Incisions are small, reducing pain and recovery time
- The procedures can be performed in women who have scarring from previous pelvic surgeries
It is placed through a small incision in the vagina, usually under general anesthesia, and women can go home the same day without a urinary catheter after urinating in recovery. Vaginal stitches to close the skin dissolve, but the sling is permanent.
While each sling procedure varies slightly, placing the mesh generally involves these steps:
- A small incision or incisions will be made in the vagina, the abdomen, or where the top of your thigh meets your pelvic area.
- The mesh is threaded through the incision and positioned under the urethra to form a cradle of support
- The mesh allows your body tissues to grow into it, providing support to your urethra and securing the mesh in place.
Following your sling procedure, your doctor may also advise the following:
- While your incisions will be small and should heal quickly, your doctor may prescribe pain medication for you if it’s needed. In addition, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics.
- In some cases, a physician may insert a catheter to drain urine from your bladder temporarily. The catheter is usually removed before you leave the hospital or clinic. However, if you are unable to empty your bladder on your own, the catheter may remain in place for a short time until you’re able to do so.
- While you should avoid sexual intercourse, heavy lifting, and exercise for approximately four to six weeks following your procedure, you can usually return to your non-strenuous daily activities in a short time.