Urethral bulking to treat urinary incontinence involves injecting material (such as collagen) around the urethra. This may be done to:
Most bulking materials are injected around the urethra just outside the muscle of the urethra at the bladder outlet. Injecting the bulking material may be done through the skin, through the urethra or, in women, through the vagina. Needle placement is guided by the use of a cystoscope inserted into the urethra.
Urethral bulking procedures are usually done under local anesthesia in women, but men may require a general or regional anesthesia. A local anesthetic allows the person to stand up after an injection to find out if continence has been achieved. If continence has not been restored, another injection may be done immediately.
This treatment may help, but over time the effect wears off. It is common to need more treatments.
The surgery is used mostly for women and sometimes for men.
Some of the cost of this treatment may not be covered by your provincial health insurance.
Most urethral bulking injections can be done in a doctor's office or surgery centre. They rarely require a hospital stay. You may need to take it easy for a few days afterward.
Urethral bulking may be done to treat:
Urethral bulking may work for some women. But fewer than 4 out of 10 women have long-term benefits.footnote 1
The main risks related to urethral bulking are pain at the injection site, injury to the urethra, and migration of the bulking material.
This surgery is used mostly for women and sometimes for men.
This treatment method avoids the risks associated with abdominal surgery.
Before having urethral bulking treatment, ask your doctor about the following:
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
American Urological Association (2009). Guideline for the surgical management of female stress urinary incontinence: Update (2009). Available online: http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/clinical-guidelines.cfm.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineBrian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerAvery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
Current as ofMay 5, 2017
Current as of: May 5, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
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