TVT surgery for stress urinary incontinence (SUI)
Jackie, aged 50, had a TVT operation at Spire Hartswood Hospital under consultant gynaecologist Mr Rajiv Varma. Here she describes what led her to have surgery and how it has changed her life......
“I’d had a slight urine leakage for many years and put it down to having had three children and then a hysterectomy when I was 39. Usually, the leakage happened on coughing or if I had a bad cold so it wasn’t a daily problem. However, it started to get much worse about four years ago to the extent that I had to wear pads all the time, even at night. I wouldn’t be able to tell if I was leaking or not – which was very stressful and led to some highly embarrassing moments. I mostly wore dark trousers so that, if I had a particularly bad accident, it wouldn’t be too obvious. In the summer I worried about odour as well.
When things first started to deteriorate I talked to the gynaecologist who had carried out my hysterectomy (also at Spire Hartswood). He told me that the solution would involve a major pelvic floor operation [colposuspension] and I felt I couldn’t go through any more major gynaecological surgery and concluded that I would have to put up with the symptoms and the daily drain on my life.
Stress incontinence began to affect every aspect of my life. I stopped going to the gym. I could only walk my dog for about 20 minutes and would have to return home to change my pad. If I went on holiday or out for the day, I’d have to make sure I had plenty of pads secreted away in my bag and always be on the lookout for somewhere to change.
After four years of suffering, I got to a crunch point. I sought advice again from my gynaecologist and he recommended me to Mr Rajiv Varma at Spire Hartswood.
Mr Varma was very down to earth, open and easy to talk to. It was such a relief to hear him say that he was confident that the relatively simple TVT operation would be a solution for me. Once I knew that I was on my way to an almost certain “cure” a great load was lifted from me.
I chose a date for the operation to fit in with my work. My colleagues were aware and very supportive. The treatment was covered by the BUPA private medical insurance policy that we pay into through my husband’s job.
The operation took about 20 minutes and I felt fine as soon as I woke up. In fact, I couldn’t believe it had been done so quickly and with no after effects! I was able to go home later the same day, as soon as I could pass urine without too much residual urine left in the bladder [this is measured with an ultrasonic bladder scanner held over the stomach after passing urine].
I had two tiny incisions in the pubic area and internal stitches in the vagina – which I wasn’t even aware of. I can honestly say there was little pain from the operation.
The TVT operation was an immediate success and a total transformation for me. At first I didn’t quite trust that I wasn’t going to leak – I kept imagining I might still be leaking. It was a while before I threw away all the pads which I no longer needed. In fact, when I went away recently, I found several in a handbag I hadn’t used since my last holiday!
I can now walk my dog for as long as I want and do any other exercise or activities I choose – without any fear of leakage. The TVT operation has changed my attitude to clothes and I now find I wear dresses and skirts much more.
I’ve chosen to share my story because I believe that nobody should have to put up with stress incontinence being such an ever-present worry in their daily life. The TVT operation has been a fantastic success and has given me a new freedom. I can’t think of any downside to it.”
Mr Rajiv Varma comments on the TVT operation
Tension Free Vaginal Tape (TVT) is now established as the best procedure for treating patients who have urinary stress incontinence with around 90% success rate. However, the initial patient selection is very important as some patients are at a somewhat higher risk of failure or can have symptoms of worsening urgency following the procedure.
In experienced hands the risks of TVT surgery are very low, I have now performed over 1500 TVT and similar procedures in the last 12 years with a very low overall complication rate.