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Tension-free vaginal tape (TVT)

Tension-free vaginal tape (TVT)

Tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) is for women with stress urinary incontinence. It is usually not considered suitable for women considering having children, or for women with other conditions like a cystocele or a vaginal prolapse.

The procedure can be done as day surgery, with only a local anaesthetic so the patient is fully conscious, although some surgeons do perform this under general anaesthetic. Although recovery time after the operation is less than some operations for this problem, it should not be considered a minor procedure.

During the operation the tape is inserted through a small incision in the vaginal wall. It lies between the vagina and the urethra, so it supports the middle of the urethra. Each end of the tape is threaded through two small holes on the abdomen just above the pubic bone. This support reduces the effect of any sudden increase in abdominal pressure (coughing, sneezing) that causes stress incontinence.

Sometimes there can be problems associated with this operation: bleeding, injury to the bladder, difficulty emptying the bladder, urgency, and urinary tract infections. In addition, tape erosion is a small possibility. Long-term success rates and side effects are yet to be identified.