What is Urethral and Vaginal Reconstruction?
Complex urethral-vaginal surgery is performed to restore function and appearance to a sensitive and complicated region of the urethral and vaginal anatomy. The primary function of the varied surgical procedures is to correct defects or damage to allow the patient to enjoy a healthy, full life. Appearance, though recognized as important, is a secondary and often readily achievable goal. Surgery is seldom performed solely to enhance appearance.
Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic have pioneered a number of reconstructive procedures now used at institutions around the world. We are also a world-leader in the development and refinement of minimally invasive surgery.
Why Would Someone Need Urethral and Vaginal Reconstruction?
Any woman whose uro-vaginal region has been altered by birth defects, accidents, or trauma secondary to other therapies such as surgery to restore continence or radiation treatment for cancer may be eligible for reconstructive procedures. Among the many candidates for reconstructive procedures are:
- Cancer patients who have undergone extensive surgery or radiation treatments for any cancer of the organs and structures of the reproductive system and urinary tract
- Women with vaginal wall prolapse. This is a sort of hernia in which the walls of the vagina impinge on other organs such as the bladder, urethra, rectum or other structures
- Women who have suffered physical trauma to the region as the result of accident or rape
- Women with congenital abnormalities (birth defects)
This is not an inclusive list. A complete description of all the circumstances indicating uro-vaginal reconstructive surgery is far too lengthy. It should be noted that Cleveland Clinic is a tertiary referral center. Patients who have undergone surgeries and treatments at other institutions are often referred to the clinic and its Section of Female Urology whose surgeons and specialists are trained specifically to treat more challenging medical problems.
What Happens Before Urethral and Vaginal Reconstruction?
Preparation for surgery varies depending on the patient, doctor, and type of surgical intervention needed. However, there are several recommendations that your doctor will ask you to follow before most types of surgeries.
Your doctor will ask you to have a liquid diet the day before your surgery and to not eat or drink anything midnight the night before your surgery. If you must take medication (as directed by your doctor) take it with small sips of water. You will also be asked to discontinue using blood thinners and NSAIDs a week before your surgery to reduce bleeding risk during the procedure.
These are general recommendations. It is important to discuss with your doctor what you need to do before surgery and have them answer any questions you may have.
What Happens During Urethral and Vaginal Reconstruction?
The surgical procedures vary as greatly as the problems they correct. In any given circumstance, there may be several differing approaches to correcting a medical problem. Procedures may be simple or exceedingly complex requiring tissue grafts and the reconstruction of entire organs. Surgeons at the clinic have pioneered a number of procedures now used at institutions around the world.
The clinic is also a world-leader in the development and refinement of minimally invasive surgery. These procedures are designed to leave minimal trauma, blood loss, scarring and hospitalization. Recovery following these procedures is usually significantly faster than standard open surgical procedures. Cleveland Clinic surgeons are specifically trained in these procedures and the instruments they employ.
What Happens After Urethral and Vaginal Reconstruction?
After your surgery, you'll be guided to a recovery room and will be monitored by our expert medical staff. You'll be treated for post-surgery pain and nausea (if you experience any). You'll be encouraged to walk after surgery. Doing so will encourage blood flow which helps the healing process and reduces the risk of blood clots. Most patients only stay one to two days and then are discharged.
Be sure to follow your doctors recommendations after you have been discharged.