About a year before her surgery, the symptoms of stress incontinence started to control Ellen Jay’s life (not her real name). She was constantly worrying that her bladder might empty again without warning and wore pads all the time to avoid embarrassment.
She tried special exercises to strengthen her pelvic muscles and several medications but nothing seemed to help. Then, Jay’s gynecologist referred her to the Center for Women’s Continence and Pelvic Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. In October 2004 she underwent a minimally invasive surgery called a sling procedure that was performed by Cynthia D. Hall, M.D., a uro-gynecologist and co-director of the Center.
According to Hall, the sling procedure is the most popular surgery for women with stress incontinence. The surgeon places a strip of material under the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder when you urinate) and suspends it under the pubic bone. The strip acts like a hammock, supporting and compressing the urethra to prevent urine from leaking during normal activity. Most patients are discharged the day of or the day after surgery and are urinating normally within a few days.
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