Incision-free bladder surgery

October 5, 2009 3:19:38 PM PDT
Women experience it twice as often as men -- pregnancy, childbirth and menopause leave women more prone to bladder problems. Doctors say it's not a routine part of aging. An incision-free procedure is giving people back their confidence -- without a trip to the operating room.For 67-year-old Barbara Calvert, mowing isn't a chore. It's something she waited decades to do.

"Not able to always get the mower started, or wasn't before, because of the pulling and the pressure," Calvert said.

It's a condition that usually happens to seniors, but Calvert struggled with bladder control problems since her 20s.

"To me, that was just a normal part of having had two children," she said.

It stopped being normal when she started feeling like a prisoner in her own home.

"It was kind of, 'Do I really want to go to this event tonight?'" Calvert said.

For years, Calvert resisted surgery.

"I decided against that because of the pain and the down time, losing anywhere from two to six weeks of work and not being able to pick up the grandchildren," she said.

Traditional surgeries are done in the O.R. and leave behind sutures and pieces of mesh or other material.

"They are foreign objects, and some people don't tolerate foreign objects, and they can be rejected," said Dr. David Jacob, a urologist at West Florida Urology in Tampa, Florida.

In a new surgery, doctors use radiofrequency to tighten muscles around the bladder, no incisions required.

"It's done under local anesthesia in the office and generally takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes," Dr. Jacob said.

Patients see results in two to four months. It's the solution Calvert had waited years for.

"Finished the procedure, came and sat at my desk at the office, started answering phones," she said.

Now she spends her free time the way she wants to.

"It's changed my whole life completely," Calvert added.

Now, she is enjoying the small things and looking forward to a worry-free future.

Dr. Jacob says he has seen a success rate of 70 percent with the less-invasive procedure, which includes both improvements and complete cures. To qualify for the procedure, a woman must suffer from a condition called stress incontinence, which is triggered by activities like running and coughing.

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