Incontinence sling surgery restores Holmdel nurse’s freedom


Gina O’Donnell, 52, a surgical nurse at Bayshore Medical Center, believes it’s a natural result of years of suffering from stress urinary incontinence, the birth of four children, and decades of standing. was

“If I sneezed, coughed, ran, anything was leaking out. But I thought it was manageable. “I was doing it,” she says.

And in late 2021, while caring for a patient of urologist Nina Bhatia, M.D., Gina realized she might have hope. She said, “The patient was scheduled to have surgery, but her symptoms weren’t as severe as mine. It just lit a light bulb that maybe I could be a candidate too.”

Impact on her daily life

Gina immediately made an appointment to see Dr. Bhatia.

“We spent a lot of time listening to her because it was so compelling how her incontinence impacted her daily life. Almost every movement she made while caring for the patient was causing the leak,” says Dr. Bhatia.

Gina was tested for a urinary tract infection and had a bladder scan to see if she could empty her bladder. She also underwent a urodynamic test, a non-invasive procedure performed in Dr. Bhatia’s office, to see how the body stores and releases urine.

“Dr. Bhatia was very reassuring from the beginning, saying, ‘I will definitely help you.’ I was so excited,” says Gina.

treatment options

Urinary incontinence is common and affects twice as many women as men, but this is not a normal fact of life as we age. Treatment options include:

  • Pelvic floor therapy to improve muscle strength
  • A vaginal insert that resembles a tampon and provides additional support for the urethra.
  • A pessary, a prosthetic device that can be inserted and removed from the vagina by the patient depending on symptoms
  • Urethral sling surgery. A thin mesh strap is placed under the urethra to support it.
  • Urethral bulking. A gel is injected into the urethra to prevent it from opening unexpectedly due to activity.

Dr. Bhatia recommended Gina the retro pubic sling, which provides great support in cases of severe stress incontinence.

“We tell our patients to expect about a 90 percent improvement over their lifetime. No, but it’s nothing compared to what it was before the sling was inserted,” says Dr. Bhatia.

“Very free”

This procedure is performed as a day surgery, requires light sedation, and takes about 20 minutes. Dr. Bhatia details how it works.

  • First, a small incision is made in the vagina corresponding to the location of the urethra.
  • Then install the sling.
  • Finally, test the bladder under anesthesia to see if the sling can support the urethra until the patient is leak free.

Gina’s surgery was a unique experience for her because it was performed in the department where she works at Bayshore. “One of her colleagues took care of me, and it was very strange lying in that bed. But it was comforting to be there,” Gina says.

The change the sling has made in Gina’s life is immeasurable.

“I can now ditch the printed exercise pants and tie a sweatshirt around my waist and resume hiking, biking, or attending an exercise class. You don’t have to leave it, it’s so free,” says Gina.

By sharing her story, she hopes to help other women who, like her, have suffered in silence. “No one wants to talk about stress incontinence, but there is help and Dr. Bhatia is the surgeon to see. She is just wonderful.”

Next steps and resources:

  • Introducing our source: Nina Bhatia, MD
  • To make an appointment with a urologist near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.

The materials provided through HealthU are intended for general information use only and are not intended to replace medical advice. Always consult your doctor for individualized care.



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