Retropubic suspension surgery is used to
urinary incontinence by lifting the sagging bladder
urethra that have dropped abnormally low in the pelvic
area. Retropubic suspension is abdominal surgery, where access to the bladder
and urethra is gained by making an incision in the abdominal (belly) wall. This surgery can be done by making one big incision (open surgery) or several small incisions (laparoscopic surgery).
Burch colposuspension is the most common procedure used for retropubic suspension. The vaginal wall is attached to a ligament (Cooper's ligament) next to
the pubic bone.
These procedures involve
abdominal surgery, so hospitalization is required. To allow healing of the urinary
catheter is placed into the bladder through the
urethra (or belly wall) to allow urine to drain. The catheter is usually
removed in about 10 days.
You will likely go home 2 to 3 days
after the surgery if there have been no complications. The time it takes for you to recover depends on if you had open or laparoscopic surgery.
If you had laparoscopic surgery, you will probably be able to go back to work and most of your usual activities in 1 to 2 weeks. If you had open surgery, it may take longer, about 2 to 4 weeks. For either surgery, you may need 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. Try to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities. These might put extra pressure on your bladder.
amount of pain you have after surgery depends on the exact nature of your
procedure, your physical condition at the time of surgery, and your own
response to pain. You will probably feel some pain at the incision site and may
feel some cramping in your abdomen. Your doctor will prescribe medicine to
relieve your discomfort during the first few days after surgery. Be sure to
call your doctor if you cannot get relief from pain.
Women who have laparoscopic surgery usually have shorter recovery times. They may also have less pain after surgery, have shorter hospital stays, and return to normal activities faster than women who have open surgery.1
have some constipation after this surgery. You can try some things to avoid constipation:
Tell your doctor if you still have constipation after you have tried these methods.
Retropubic suspension is used to
stress incontinence that is caused by sagging of the
urethra and/or bladder neck.
Retropubic suspension is considered
to be effective in relieving stress incontinence. Most women have fewer
symptoms of stress incontinence after this surgery.
For stress incontinence, doctors have been doing Burch colposuspension surgeries longer than sling surgeries. Many studies have been done on the Burch colposuspension surgery. About 9 out of 10 women are cured ("dry") during the year after surgery. After 5 years, about 7 out of 10 women are still "dry."2
Complications of retropubic surgery may
All surgeries that use
general anesthesia have a small risk of death or
complications. All surgeries carry some risk of infection.
Retropubic suspension procedures
require that a thin, flexible tube (catheter) be
kept in place for a day or more, until you can get up independently to use the
toilet. The catheter may be uncomfortable. And it increases the risk of getting a
urinary tract infection.
surgery for urinary incontinence, ask your doctor about the following:
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Ellis DN, et al. (2006). Laparoscopic colposuspension for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
Lapitan MCM, et al. (2009). Open retropubic colposuspension for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).
September 11, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
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