Vaginal sling procedures are types of surgeries that help control stress urinary incontinence. This is urine leakage that happens when you laugh, cough, sneeze, lift things, or exercise. The procedure creates a sling for your urethra that helps close your urethra and bladder neck. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside. The bladder neck is the part of the bladder that connects to the urethra.
Pubo-vaginal sling; Transobturator sling; Midurethral sling
Vaginal sling procedures use different materials:
You have either general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia before the surgery starts.
A catheter (tube) is placed in your bladder to drain urine from your bladder.
The doctor makes one small surgical cut (incision) inside your vagina. Another small cut is made just above the pubic hair line or in the groin. Most of the procedure is done through the cut inside the vagina.
The doctor creates a sling from the tissue or synthetic material. The sling is passed under your urethra and bladder neck and is attached to the strong tissues in your lower belly, or left in place to let your body heal around and incorporate it into your tissue.
Vaginal sling procedures are done to treat stress urinary incontinence.
Before discussing surgery, your doctor will have you try bladder retraining, Kegel exercises, medicines, or other options. If you tried these and are still having problems with urine leakage, surgery may be your best option.
Risks of any surgery are:
Risks of this surgery are:
Tell your doctor what medicines you are taking. These include medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
You may have gauze packing in the vagina after surgery to help stop bleeding. It is most often removed a few hours after surgery or the next day.
You may leave the hospital on the same day as surgery. Or you may stay for 1 or 2 days.
The stitches (sutures) in your vagina will dissolve after several weeks. After 1 to 3 months, you should be able to have sexual intercourse without any problems.
Follow instructions about how to care for yourself after you go home. Keep all follow-up appointments.
Urinary leakage gets better for most women. But you may still have some leakage. This may be because other problems are causing urinary incontinence. Over time, the leakage may come back.
Gomelsky A, Dmochowski RR. Slings: autologous, biologic, synthetic, and midurethral. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 125.
Lentz GM, Miller JL. Lower urinary tract function and disorders: physiology of micturition, voiding dysfunction, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, and painful bladder syndrome. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 21.
Reviewed By: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.