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Female Incontinence Surgeries Look Equally Effective

But side effects differ, researchers find

WEDNESDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Two common surgical procedures for female stress incontinence appear to be equally effective, a new study reveals, but each option carries its own side effects.

Known as mid-urethral slings, the techniques are often used to address stress incontinence or urine loss that results from activities such as coughing, sneezing or laughing.

Urinary incontinence affects about half of all women, noted the research team from the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago. From 15 to 80 percent of them have stress incontinence, and 4 to 10 percent of those women ultimately undergo one of the two surgical procedures.

"These findings give us insight into the complications associated with each procedure, which will allow us to better tailor care to individual patient needs," co-author Dr. Kimberly Kenton, an associate professor in the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and urology, said in a university news release.

The findings, reported in the May 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, were to be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which concludes May 19, in San Francisco.

For their study, the authors focused on women who were 21 years and older and scheduled for surgery to treat a stress incontinence condition that had been diagnosed at least three months earlier.

Kenton's team first looked at the track record for the retropubic procedure option, in which a sling is placed between the pubic region and the bladder. This method led to urination problems that required further surgery, the researchers found.

They then explored the second surgical option, known as the transobturator procedure, in which a sling is placed near the labia and urethra. This, in turn, appeared to cause neurologic complications, such as upper leg weakness.

Both procedures achieved a cure rate for stress incontinence of between 78 and 81 percent. And with each option, the related side effects dissipated within a couple of weeks, the study found.

"These findings will help us to bring advances to the millions of women who require surgery for this embarrassing condition," Kenton said.

More information

For more on female incontinence, visit the U.S. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

--Alan Mozes

SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, May 18, 2010

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