Retropubic tape

Last updated on 27th March 2016

Mid-Urethral Tape (MUT) surgery involves placing a special reinforcement tape (made of prolene which is often used as surgical stitching material). It has become the new “gold standard” operation for treating women with stress urinary incontinence. Essentially it involves inserting a tape made from a special type of plastic under the urethra (small pipe leading from the bladder to the outside world). This acts as a hammock, supporting the bladder and preventing failure of the closure mechanism when you laugh, cough or move suddenly. This tape does not dissolve, but gets incorporated into your body. There are two different approaches for performing the procedure (retropubic and trans-obturator), and generally both of these are performed under general anaesthetic.

Retropubic Mid Urethral Tape

This is the older of the two mid urethral tape procedures and we have ten years worth of follow-up which shows an 85% improvement in symptoms. The tape is inserted through a small incision inside the vagina under the urethra and comes out through two small holes at the level of the pubic hair line. These holes are closed with a dissolvable stitch and heal very well.

What happens after the operation?

After the operation, you may experience nausea and wound pain. Medication will be given to relieve these symptoms. You will normally be allowed to drink and eat on the same day of operation.  The urinary catheter will be removed later on the same day or on the next day. The nurse looking after you will make sure you are passing water without a problem and check there is not a large volume of urine left in the bladder after you have finished urinating. A small number of women will not adequately empty their bladders. They may have to go home with a catheter in and come back a week later for removal of the catheter. If a vaginal pack / bandage is used at the time of surgery, it is removed the following day.

There is likely to be some vaginal bleeding after surgery, and this may take a few days to settle down. You are likely to experience pain in the abdomen / pelvis that will require regular painkillers for up to a couple of weeks following surgery. Providing there are no problems you will be allowed home the day after surgery.

Are there any risks?

Mid-urethral tape procedures are very safe and effective, but as with any surgical procedure there are risks attached. The risks common to all operations include anaesthetic risks, infection, bleeding, recurrence of symptoms, and formation of a blood clot in the legs/lungs. The main risks specific to the mid-urethral tape procedures are:

What should I do after the operation?

You should be back on your feet quite quickly, but you avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks. There may be some bleeding / brown vaginal discharge as the wounds in the vagina heal which is completely normal.

Sexual intercourse may be resumed after 4 weeks if you are feeling comfortable and the discharge has stopped. We generally suggest at least 2 weeks off work.


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