Bladder prolapse surgery is a procedure performed to repair the muscles within the body that support the bladder. A prolapsed bladder is a condition suffered by many older women as muscles in the front wall of the vagina — those supporting the bladder — weaken and loosen. This deterioration is commonly attributed to age and the strain placed on the area during childbirth. A prolapsed bladder is also associated with menopause, when the body typically stops producing estrogen, a hormone important in helping to maintain the strength of the muscles around the vagina. If these muscles weaken and can no longer support the bladder, it prolapses, or descends into the vagina.
Symptoms of a prolapsed bladder may include more frequent bladder infections, difficulty urinating, bladder leakage as a result of coughing or sneezing, and painful intercourse. A prolapsed bladder is also commonly associated with prolapses of other organs within the pelvis, including the uterus. Most prolapses worsen over time, so it is important to seek medical advice as soon as symptoms appear.
Prolapsed bladders are separated in to four grades, depending on how far the bladder drops into the vagina. A minor prolapse can be treated non-surgically with the insertion of a vaginal pessary. This is a device designed to support the vaginal muscles; it has to be replaced every three to six months. A severely prolapsed bladder may require surgery. Bladder prolapse surgery is generally performed through the vagina, and the aim of the procedure is to provide support to the vagina and uterus by securing the bladder back into its correct position and strengthening the muscles in the surrounding area.
Bladder prolapse surgery involves making an incision inside the vaginal wall and then using stitches to strengthen the tissues supporting the vagina. These stitches may be placed at the front or the back walls, depending on the type of bladder prolapse. The incision inside the vagina is then closed with stitches that generally dissolve within one to two weeks. In some patients, an additional stitch may be required at the top of the vagina or in the cervix to support the vagina. A special mesh may also be used to reinforce the prolapse repair.
Bladder prolapse surgery can be performed with the patient under general, regional, or local anesthetic. Most patients are discharged on the same day. The recovery period is normally around six weeks, and the surgery has an approximate success rate of 70 percent.