LAS VEGAS – A pelvic surgeon brought a bold message to a gathering of gynecologists: There’s a great gap in American care for pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence, and they’re the right physicians to make a difference by treating these common conditions.
“There are never going to be enough specialists to deal with these problems. This is a natural progression for many of you,” said urogynecologist and pelvic surgeon Mickey M. Karram, MD, in a joint presentation at the Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery Symposium. In fact, he said, “there’s so much disease out there to fix that you may become more overwhelmed.”
Dr. Karram, who has offices in Cincinnati, Beverly Hills, and Orange County, Calif., spoke about female urinary incontinence with obstetrician-gynecologist Beri M. Ridgeway, MD, of Cleveland Clinic. They offered these tips:
Test for stress incontinence
Dr. Karram recommends using a “quick and easy” cystometrogram (CMG) test to “corroborate or refute what the patient thinks is going on” in regard to urinary function. “With this simple test, you’ll get a clear understanding of sensation [to urinate] and of what their fullness and capacity numbers are,” he said. And if you have the patient cough or strain during the test, “you should be able to duplicate a sign of stress incontinence 90% of the time.”
If patients don’t leak when they take this test, there may be another problem such as overactive bladder, a condition that can’t be duplicated via the test, he said.
Ask the right questions
When it comes to identifying when they have urinary difficulties, some patients “say yes to every question we ask,” said Dr. Ridgeway, and they may not be able to distinguish between urgency and leakage.
A better approach is to ask women to provide specific examples of when they have continence issues, she said. It’s also useful to ask patients about what bothers them the most if they have multiple symptoms: Is it urgency (“Gotta go; gotta go”)? Leakage during certain situations like coughing and laughing? “That helps me decide how to go about treating them first and foremost,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you won’t treat both [problems], but it really gives you a reference point of where to start.”
Research suggests that women tend to be more bothered by urge incontinence than stress incontinence, she said, because they can regulate their activities or avoid the stress form.
Beware of acute incontinence cases
“If a woman walks in and says ‘Everything was great until a week or two ago, but now I’m living in pads,’ it could be a fecal impaction or a pelvic mass,” Dr. Karram said at the meeting jointly provided by Global Academy for Medical Education and the University of Cincinnati. Global Academy and this news organization are owned by the same company.
Discuss the many treatment options
In some cases of incontinence, Dr. Ridgeway said she’ll mention “the array of treatment options, such as pelvic floor physical therapy, bladder retraining, vaginal estrogen, medications, and Botox.”
She added: “I explain that we’ll work together, and sometimes it will take a couple tries, or we’ll try a couple things at once.”
Dr. Ridgeway disclosed consulting for Coloplast and serving as an independent contractor (legal) for Ethicon. Dr. Karram disclosed speaking for Allergan, Astellas Pharma, Coloplast, and Cynosure/Hologic; consulting for Coloplast and Cynosure/Hologic; and receiving royalties from BihlerMed.