Brief procedure offers relief from incontinence

August 29, 2006
A medical condition that affects millions of women in America – but is rarely discussed for fear of embarrassment – can be remedied through a 20-minute outpatient procedure at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Stress urinary incontinence, specifically leaking that occurs from physical activity sometimes as light as coughing or laughing, plagues about 15 percent of adult females, said Dr. Tim Chase, co-director of the Glen Meade Incontinence Center in Wilmington. Many are reluctant to discuss it, resigned that this condition is the inevitable result of child-bearing or aging.

"Women do not have to live with incontinence," Dr. Chase said. He, as well as several other gynecologists on the medical staff at New Hanover Regional, perform a procedure known as “Tension-Free Vaginal Tape-Obturator,” or TVT-O, that has an extremely high success rate in addressing this condition, without complications.

"With TVT-O, a mesh tape, similar to that used to repair hernias, is placed under the urethra, supporting it much like a hammock would," Dr. Chase said. The support from this “sling” prevents leaks when pressure is placed on the abdomen through everyday activities.

Dr. Chase said the surgical procedure requires a half-inch vaginal incision and two smaller incisions on the thighs. It does not require general anesthesia, and is completed in 20 minutes. The doctor can talk to the patient throughout and even have her perform a “test cough” to make final adjustments.

The patient goes home the same day, without a catheter, and resumes normal activities in two or three days.

The safe, simple procedure is an option many women don’t realize they have.

“They’re having to adjust their daily lifestyles,” Dr. Chase said. “They can’t jump on a trampoline with their kids. They can’t jump up and down and cheer for the children at a soccer match, because they’re afraid they’re going to leak urine.”

Once patients have the procedure, “they don’t have to worry about these things,” he said. The solution is usually permanent and is not “the ‘bladder tack’ of yesteryear.”

Two years ago, New Hanover Regional became one of the nation’s first hospitals to offer TVT-O. Dr. Chase trained under the first gynecologist in the United States to perform the procedure.

Today Dr. Chase is a preceptor, teaching this technique to physicians from our region and from around the country.

Other gynecologists in the Wilmington area who perform TVT-O include Stephen Brewbaker; Brent Wright of Women’s Health Specialties North and Dr. Chase’s partners at Glen Meade OBGYN, to include Daniel Robison (co-director of the practice’s Incontinence Center); Andrea Foiles; Rachel Jones; Kyle Rhodes and Clarence Wilson.

The procedure can return women to a lifestyle they thought they had left behind.

“Not a week goes by where I don’t have a patient come in and say, ‘If I had known this was available five or ten years ago, I would have done it back then,'” Dr. Chase said.

For a referral to a physician who performs TVT-O, call VitaLine at 815.5188 or 1.888.815.5188.