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Colposuspension

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who have stress incontinence. It tells you about colposuspension, a treatment used for stress incontinence. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Yes. If your bladder has slipped down out of its normal place, a type of surgery called colposuspension will lift it back into position. This operation should help to stop you leaking urine.

Colposuspension is the best operation for curing stress incontinence. The benefits also last longer than other types of surgery.

What is it?

Colposuspension is an operation. If you've tried simple treatments for stress incontinence, such as pelvic floor exercises, and they haven't worked, your doctor may suggest you have surgery.

There are many different types of surgery. The aim is to pull the opening (or neck) of your bladder up to its normal place. This makes it less likely that urine will leak out.

Colposuspension is the most common type of operation for stress incontinence. During this operation, the top of your vagina is lifted up and the surgeon uses stitches to tie it behind your pubic bone (the bone behind your pubic hair). The stitches are permanent.

There are two ways to do this operation: open surgery or keyhole surgery.

Open retropubic colposuspension

This operation is done through a large cut in your lower abdomen. Your vagina is lifted up in the space behind your pubic bone. Your pubic bone is the bone behind your pubic hair. Surgeons then use stitches to tie your vagina behind your pubic bone. Because the opening of the bladder lies in front of the upper vagina it is lifted into its normal position. The stitches are permanent.

There are two main types of open retropubic colposuspension.

  • Burch colposuspension: This is the most common type. The stitches are tied to the cartilage behind the pubic bone.

  • Marshall-Marchetti-Krantz urethropexy: The stitches are tied to the bone.

Keyhole (or laparoscopic) colposuspension

This operation is done through two or three very small cuts in your lower abdomen. Doctors call this laparoscopic surgery. It's done with a special tube called a laparoscope. This is a long tube with a light, a camera, and instruments at the end. It's put into your body through a small cut (the 'keyhole') in your belly button. The camera at the end sends pictures to a television screen. And the instruments let your surgeon operate on the area.

What will happen?

All operations that involve your bladder are serious. It may take two months or more for you to get back to your normal routine.

See Surgery for stress incontinence: what to expect to learn more.

Last Updated: October 11, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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