The Incontinence and Voiding Dysfunction Center at Vanderbilt University offers many ways to diagnose and treat voiding disorders (problems with emptying the bladder or urethra), including incontinence (the inability to control urination).
The Center has state-of-the-art technology, including an advanced computerized urodynamics laboratory.
Our doctors use many advanced methods to diagnose and treat voiding disorders, including:
In addition, we specialize in the surgical reconstruction of lower urinary tract abnormalities, such as:
Many procedures can help stress urinary incontinence (when urine leaks with coughing, sneezing or other physical pressures). Sling procedures and laparoscopic (minimally invasive surgeries) are just two of the options.
From noninvasive techniques, such as biofeedback, to complex surgery, Vanderbilt provides experience, support and customized treatment for each patient.
More than 10 million men and women of all ages suffer from incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the uncontrollable or accidental leakage of urine. It is embarrassing, uncomfortable and can affect a person's quality of life. Our faculty and staff talk with each patient about personalized solutions to their incontinence.
The bladder is often compared to a balloon that stores urine. The kidneys make urine. To fill and store urine, the bladder expands, and when it needs to empty, it contracts and pushes urine out. Urine leaves the bladder through a tube called the urethra. The urethra is surrounded at the top by a muscular valve (the urinary sphincter) that stays closed to keep urine in and opens to let urine out. The bladder must coordinate the opening and closing of the sphincter and the relaxing of bladder muscle to work properly. This function relies on messages from the nerves and the brain. When injury or illness affects any of these parts, incontinence can occur.
Treating incontinence starts with an evaluation, including a physical exam and a discussion of each patient's health history. Often, a urologist (a doctor specializing in incontinence and other urinary-related health issues) may diagnose the problem with tests that study the urinary tract and its functions. For example, a urodynamic test can reveal how much urine the bladder can hold, whether there are uncontrollable muscle contractions, whether the urinary sphincter is injured and cannot close, or whether the bladder muscle contracts properly. Treatment for incontinence can be complicated, because there can be more than one problem involved.
There are four kinds of incontinence: transient incontinence, urge incontinence, stress incontinence and overflow incontinence.
There are several different treatments for incontinence. Each treatment plan is tailored to a patient's type of incontinence, personal needs, expectations and medical conditions. These plans can be classified into four main groups: behavioral therapies, drugs, devices and surgery.
The field of urology is rapidly evolving. Research continues to clarify the causes of incontinence and leads to improvements in treatments.