Urologic Conditions & Treatments

Urethral Bulking Chattanooga TN

What is urethral bulking?

URETHRAL BULKING TNStress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) involves the leakage of urine that occurs with straining such as when you cough, sneeze, lift, exercise or even bend over. There are many different treatment options available to patients with SUI ranging from pelvic floor exercises to surgeries. One surgical treatment for SUI is Urethral Bulking.

Urethral Bulking is a procedure in which a material is injected into the urine tube (urethra) to “bulk” it, partially closing the tube and making it easier for the muscles that control urine leakage to close the urethra completely. This may improve or even eliminate leakage associated with exertion such as coughing or exercise.

What can I expect during urethral bulking?

Urethral bulking may be performed in the office or under sedation in the operating room, depending on your preference and any health concerns. A small scope (called a cystoscope) is inserted into the urine tube (urethra) so that we can see where to inject the material. Using a needle passed through the cystoscope, the bulking material is injected into the wall of the urine tube. This added “bulk” to the urethra helps the muscles that keep you continent to close more completely, reducing your leakage.

After the injection, if performed in the operating room, you will be given plenty of time to fully wake up. Whether performed with or without sedation, you will then have time to try to urinate on your own. If you have difficulty urinating, a small tube called a catheter may be briefly placed in the urine tube and then removed. This may help you to empty your bladder by opening up the urine tube slightly. Patients are usually able to go home the same day as the procedure, and can return to work within a day or two.

How well does urethral bulking work?

During the first year after treatment, the majority of patients are improved with less overall Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). However, the majority of patients are not completely dry during the first year after urethral bulking. The long-term benefits of urethral bulking are less well known but most patients will notice a decrease in the benefits from urethral bulking over time. Many patients will require repeat injections to maintain benefit, even within the first year after treatment.

What are the side effects with urethral bulking?

Many patients will have difficulty urinating immediately after urethral bulking and will require the brief placement and removal of a small tube (catheter) before leaving the hospital or office. A smaller number of patients will have trouble emptying their bladder for longer, though this typically resolves within a couple of weeks.

Patients may also note pain with urination for a few days after the bulking procedure or may find that they have to urinate more frequently. Again, these symptoms typically resolve within the first weeks after the procedure. Patients may also require treatment for a urinary tract infection.

The main advantage to urethral bulking is avoidance of a more-invasive surgery or, in some patients, anesthesia. Patients who either cannot tolerate or prefer to avoid a more-invasive surgery may want to consider urethral bulking as an option. When compared to other surgical therapies for SUI, urethral bulking is usually not as successful at treating leakage and does not last as long.

What is my next step?

At UT Urology, we have specialized in providing the most advanced care available for the treatment of Urinary Incontinence. Our expertise allows you to choose from among several options for treatment of your incontinence, finding the treatment that is right for you. We have the only Urologists in the region who have completed fellowship training including a focus on incontinence. We routinely treat patients with even the most complicated incontinence problems including those who have failed prior therapies or have complications from prior procedures.

Contact us today for your evaluation and take the first step toward gaining better control over your incontinence.

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