What is cystocele (bladder prolapse) surgery?

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Repair of bladder prolapse (cystocele) or urethra prolapse (urethrocele): Overview

Two common forms of pelvic organ prolapse are bladder prolapse (cystocele) and urethral prolapse (urethrocele). A cystocele occurs when the wall of the bladder presses against and moves the wall of the vagina. A urethrocele occurs when the urethra moves from its normal position and presses against the wall of the vagina. Both conditions are easy for your doctor to see during a physical exam. They often occur at the same time and are usually caused by damage that happens from a vaginal delivery.

While it is common to have some degree of bladder and urethral prolapse, few people ever have any symptoms. Or the symptoms do not appear for years. When symptoms do appear, they may include difficulty urinating, uncontrolled release of urine (urinary incontinence), and pain during sexual intercourse. Surgery is not required unless your symptoms interfere with daily activities.

Unless another health problem is present that would require an abdominal incision, the bladder and urethra are usually repaired through an incision in the wall of the vagina. This surgery pulls together the loose or torn tissue and strengthens the wall of the vagina. This prevents prolapse from recurring.

How well does repair of bladder prolapse (cystocele) or urethra prolapse (urethrocele) work?

Surgery helps improve symptoms for most people. But in some cases, prolapse happens again several years after surgery.

What are the risks of repair of bladder prolapse (cystocele) or urethra prolapse (urethrocele)?

Risks of cystocele and urethrocele repair include:

  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Urinary retention.
  • Painful intercourse.
  • Infection.
  • Bladder injury.
  • Formation of an abnormal connection or opening between two organs (fistula).

What can you expect as you recover from repair of bladder prolapse (cystocele) or urethra prolapse (urethrocele)?

General anesthesia usually is used during repair of the bladder and urethra. You may stay in the hospital from 1 to 2 days. You may go home with a catheter in place. You can most likely return to your normal activities in about 6 weeks. Avoid strenuous activity, such as heavy lifting or long periods of standing, for the first 3 months, and increase your activity level gradually. Straining or lifting after you have resumed normal activities may cause the problem to recur.

Most people are able to resume sexual intercourse in less than 6 weeks. Urinary function usually returns to normal in 2 to 6 weeks.

Why is repair of bladder prolapse (cystocele) or urethra prolapse (urethrocele) done?

Repair of the bladder and urethra is done to help with symptoms such as pressure on the vaginal wall from the movement of those organs, difficulty urinating, urinary incontinence, and painful intercourse. If you are experiencing uncontrolled release of urine (urinary incontinence), further testing may be needed to find out what procedure is needed.

Bladder and urethral prolapse often occur with the prolapse of other pelvic organs, so tell your doctor about any other symptoms you have. If your doctor finds a uterine prolapse , rectocele , or small bowel prolapse (enterocele ) during your routine pelvic examination, that problem can also be repaired during surgery.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.