Loss of bladder control, or urinary incontinence, is a common condition that affects up to half of American women. Incontinence can sometimes be remedied by taking medicines or doing special exercises. But over the past 2 decades, a growing number of women have been choosing surgery to improve bladder control. Several types of surgery are available, but only a few studies have looked at the pros and cons of the different options.
Now, NIH-funded researchers have completed a large and rigorous study that compares 2 common surgeries for urinary incontinence. The study involved 520 women. Half of them had a type of surgery called fascial sling. The other half underwent a procedure called the Burch colposuspension. After 2 years, overall cure rates were significantly higher for the sling procedure (47%) than for the Burch technique (38%).
Unfortunately, the women in the sling group also had more complications. Their side effects included problems with urination and infections in the urinary tract. However, more women in the sling group said they were satisfied with the results of the surgery.
These findings should help doctors and patients as they think about different surgery options for bladder control.