WEDNESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse can reduce their risk of incontinence afterward by having a second procedure done simultaneously where surgeons implant a "sling" to support the urethra, new research finds.
However, experts caution that women who got the sling were at a higher risk for complications such as difficulty emptying the bladder, urinary tract infection, bladder perforation and bleeding.
Though the researchers characterize the complications as relatively minor, other experts say the risks should be taken seriously. And some of the women might not have needed the sling procedure in the first place, since only 25 percent of women getting the prolapse surgery actually experience incontinence, according to background information in the study.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when muscles and tissues in the pelvic cavity weaken. The tissues hold organs such as the bladder, uterus and colon in place. When weakened, the organs droop into the pelvic cavity, pressing into the vagina. In severe cases, vaginal tissue protrudes out of the body.
Prolapse surgery relieves the pressure on the lower pelvic cavity and puts the organs back in place, explained study author Dr. John Wei, a professor of urology at University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
But the surgery can have unintended consequences, including incontinence. It's believed that the fallen organs block the urethra (the duct that carries urine), Wei explained. When the organs are lifted back up by surgery, the blockage clears and, as a result, women may experience stress incontinence, or leaking urine during activities ranging from coughing to exercise.
In the study, researchers split 337 women who underwent pelvic organ prolapse surgery and who did not have any incontinence prior to surgery into two groups. One group got the sling procedure at the same
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