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What is Tension-Free Vaginal Tape?

Tension-Free Vaginal Tape (TVT) placement is a procedure employed to control stress urinary incontinence caused by weakness in closure of the urethra during physical activities. TVT placement is a relatively simple procedure requiring a short hospital stay with a quick recovery compared to retropubic suspension surgery. The TVT provides support to the sagging urethra so that it remains closed during coughing or sudden movement, preventing the accidental leak of urine.

Inserting a TVT usually takes about 30 minutes and is performed under local or light general anesthesia. Your doctor will make small incisions over your abdomen and vaginal wall. A mesh tape is then passed under the urethra, like a hammock, to maintain its normal position. No stitches are required to keep the TVT in place.

Patients undergoing TVT placement may experience slight pain and discomfort. Following the procedure, you will be asked to empty your bladder to see the reaction of the bladder and urethra to the surgery. Patients typically go home on the same day. A catheter (thin flexible tube) may be inserted in your bladder to drain the urine for a few days after surgery if you cannot void in the Recovery Room. Patients may resume normal activities within 1 to 2 weeks. However, you may need to avoid driving for 2 weeks, and sexual activity or strenuous activities for up to 6 weeks.

The most common risks associated with TVT placement include injury to the bladder or urethra, difficulty emptying the bladder and risk of infection. The mesh tape used in the surgery may cause erosion into the pelvic tissue.

Although the TVT sling is constructed out of synthetic mesh, it is a small strip of material which is incorporated into the connective tissue to become a new supportive ligament. Slings are not associated with the complications found with vaginal mesh for prolapse. TVT slings have been performed in the same way for over 20 years and are considered the gold standard for incontinence surgery.

Dr. Davila can provide you more information on the effectiveness and safety of TVT slings and other treatments for urinary incontinence.