Doris’s Story: Adjustable Sling Surgery Cures Leaking Bladder

Doris Lewis, 76, was literally confined to her home because of bladder leakage problems. Having had breast cancer, which is now in remission, the leakage issue had become Doris’ main health concern. Her oncologist recommended that she see Walid Kassem, MD, a urogynecologist at Miami Valley Hospital.

“Dr. Kassem explained my problem to me and told me exactly what he was going to do,” said Doris. “He had to build up my urinary tract with an adjustable sling.” 

“The Cure Rate Is Almost 100 Percent”

The sling is the standard for leakage surgery.

“I began using the adjustable sling surgery in 2004, and I was the only doctor in the country doing this surgery,” said Dr. Kassem. “The cure rate is almost 100 percent.” 

According to Dr. Kassem, for most urinary leakage surgeries, patients can expect a 60 percent chance of being cured and a 20 percent chance of improvement. With the adjustable sling technique he developed, the success rate at MVH has been closer to 99 percent. 

What Causes Urinary Stress Leakage?

There are several reasons for urinary stress leakage, including vaginal births, large babies and quick first deliveries. “Between 40 and 50 percent of women who deliver vaginally end up with some type of urinary leakage,” says Dr. Kassem. In addition to vaginal births, causes of stress leakage can include weakening, aging muscles, and constant stress from conditions such as; asthma, chronic cough, and emphysema.

Dr. Kassem indicated that if the leakage is mild, Kegel exercises, combined with limiting fluids, can be very effective. “We tell women that if they do 300 Kegel exercises every night while they are in bed, they will see a significant improvement in leakage.” 

For Doris, the leakage was severe and affecting her quality of life. “If I drank a glass of water, I’d have to hurry to the bathroom. I couldn’t hold it at all. Plus, I had pain, itching and burning,” she recalled. Dr. Kassem told Doris that for patients with severe leakage like hers, surgery is recommended. 

“I Wish I’d Had It sooner!”

Doris had surgery in February 2013 at Miami Valley Hospital. “I stayed one night, and I noticed a difference the day after surgery. The whole experience was a positive one. Everyone was so nice, and Dr. Kassem explained everything so well.” 

“The adjustable sling is performed while the patient is awake, and there is not a lot of pain during the procedure, just a sensation of pressure,” explained Dr. Kassem. “It is done at the bedside, with two very small incisions, followed by an adjustment without any additional incision, bleeding or pain. The patient leaves the hospital knowing she has no more leakage.”

“The surgery was really quite easy,” Doris said. “He did it through two small incisions, less than two millimeters each. The pain was not too bad; in fact, I didn’t even take the pain medication.” After about two weeks, Doris was feeling quite normal, but avoided heavy lifting. She no longer gets up during the night to urinate, and she is no longer fearful of leaving her home. “Before the surgery, if we went out for lunch, I never ordered a beverage, and I always knew exactly where the ladies’ room was.” 

Doris no longer worries about where the restrooms are, and she can order a beverage and enjoy it. Looking back, Doris wishes she had not waited to have the surgery. “I wish I’d had it sooner.


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