Simple Surgical Repair Fixes Bladder Prolapse for Midlothian Woman

The first symptom that most women with a prolapsed bladder notice is the presence of tissue in the vagina that many describe as feeling like a ball.

Cystocele – the clinical name for a prolapsed bladder – occurs when the supportive tissue between a woman’s bladder and vaginal wall weakens and stretches, allowing the bladder to bulge into or protrude from the vagina. This condition can happen during different stages of a woman’s life, but many women experience bladder prolapse as they age.

Straining the muscles that support the pelvic organs may lead to a prolapsed bladder.

Vaginal childbirth and chronic constipation can contribute to pelvic muscle weakening. Women are also at added risk for prolapsed bladder after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.

Symptoms include a feeling of pressure in the pelvis or vagina, especially after standing for long periods; increased discomfort when you strain or lift; a bulge of tissue that, in severe cases, may protrude through the vaginal opening, or recurrent bladder infections.

For mild or moderate prolapse, non-surgical treatments including medications and/or special muscle strengthening exercises are usually effective. However, in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to keep the vagina and other pelvic organs in place.

Beverly Williams of Midlothian put her severely prolapsed bladder on hold until her husband recovered from heart surgery earlier this year. The 71-year-old wife and mother of two grown sons had struggled with the growing discomfort for several years.

“It was very painful,” she explained. “My bladder was not supported at all. I felt like I had to go all the time.”

In early 2011, Beverly met with a board-certified urologist at Ingalls who recommended a procedure called anterior vault prolapse repair to put her drooping bladder back in place and keep it there. Beverly had the procedure done at Ingalls in May.

How the Procedure Works

A small incision is typically made through the front wall of the vagina. The bladder is then moved back to its normal location. Depending on the severity of the prolapse, the vaginal wall may be folded, or part of it may be cut away. Stitches are made in the tissue between the vagina and bladder, which will hold the walls of the vagina in the correct position. A mesh sling (made of synthetic or biologic material) may also be used to keep the bladder in place.

General anesthesia is used, and patients usually go home the next day.

Because the surgery involves a small incision, postoperative pain is reduced, and recovery is quicker than with traditional open surgery: one week compared to several. This highly-effective procedure is much less invasive than it was in the past, and if the repair works, it should hold for the long term.

After a one-day stay in the hospital, Beverly was back home. By the next day, she was cooking and doing light housework. “I’m back to normal again,” she added.

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