Colposuspension is a surgical procedure to treat urinary incontinence in women caused by weakness in the pelvic floor muscles. The procedure tightens these muscles and relocates the bladder and uterus back to their original positions inside the body. Though colposuspension can be done laparoscopically with very small incisions and a special camera the surgeon uses to see inside the patient, most of these procedures are done as major open surgery because fully open colposuspension surgeries typically have better results. Due to the recovery time and the risk of complications, these procedures are usually reserved for women who have tried other incontinence treatments without success.
During the procedure, the surgeon stitches the area near where the bladder meets the urethra to the pubic bone. This adds support around the urinary system and decreases the chance the patient will suffer from incontinence. The surgery is particularly effective for women who suffer from stress incontinence, which is the loss of urine when coughing, sneezing, or walking. Stitches inside near the bladder help support it to prevent urine from leaking when it is under pressure. The procedure usually takes 45 minutes to an hour if there are no serious complications.
Women who undergo a colposuspension typically stay in the hospital for three to seven days, depending on how quickly they recover. The time spent in the hospital after the procedure allows doctors to monitor the patient for signs of infection, problems, and care for the wound. After the initial hospital stay, most women are restricted to light activities for at least six weeks. Heavy lifting, sexual activity, and vigorous exercise during the first few weeks after surgery can cause problems, and women should refrain from these activities until their doctors advise them it is safe.
Colposuspension carries risks like any surgery. While rare, some women can have serious reactions to the anesthesia during surgery. It is important for patients to disclose all medical conditions and medications they currently take to the their doctors before having surgery so that adjustments can be made if necessary. In a few cases, women can sustain damage to the bladder or urinary tract during the procedure. Surgeons test for damage before stitching colposuspension patients so if there is any damage, it is usually repaired before the end of the surgery.
More common risks of the procedure include wound infections, urinary tract infections, and problems urinating after surgery. These complications usually subside without permanent damage, but patients must notify their doctors immediately if they have any signs of infection or problems. Women should monitor their wounds for swelling, redness, and unusual drainage, as these are the most common signs of infection.