Staff Reporter

" Relief is available for a problem that is seldom confided"

Of 1,068 outpatients surveyed, 58 per cent have problem 35-40 per cent of women have "mixed" symptomsMeet on urogynaecology will begin on June 16

CHENNAI: About 63 per cent of women suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Female Urology and Urogynaecology, Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital.

Among the 1,068 outpatients, who took the questionnaire-survey at the hospital, 58 per cent reported suffering stress urinary incontinence or intermittent urine leakage.

Between 35 and 40 per cent had "mixed" symptoms or a combination of stress urinary incontinence (where involuntary discharge occurred when the person coughed or laughed) and urge urinary incontinence (inability to hold).

The second phase of the study is directed at identifying what form of intervention will suit the patients.

The choice of a minimally invasive surgery, medicines, lifestyle modification or pelvic exercise regimes is determined by the severity and frequency of the condition and the extent to which it impairs the quality of life of the patient.

"Women need to know that relief is available for a problem that is seldom confided within the family let alone reported to a physician," said N. Rajamaheswari, urogyneacology chief at the hospital. She is also the secretary of the three-day international conference on urogynaecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery starting on June 16 at Kalaivanar Arangam.

The conference is being hosted by the urogynaecology unit started in 1986, which is said to be the only recognised centre in the country.

Live surgery demonstrations and clinical updates are highlights of the event.

Ten-fold increase

As a refuge for the poor, the 695-bedded hospital's urogynaecology department has seen a ten-fold increase in patient arrivals to register 54,128 outpatients and 16,744 inpatients in 2005, while the surgeries totalled 16,089, said Dr. Kalavathy Ponniraivan, Dean, Madras Medical College.

The department averages between 350 and 500 surgeries for pelvic floor dysfunctions alone every year.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is the second most common urogynaecological disorder among patients at the hospital.

The commonest problem is urinary incontinence, while fistula (hole in the bladder), regarded as the worst form of urinary incontinence, ranks third in prevalence.

Displacement in configuration of pelvic organs, altered physiological functions of the urinary tract, trauma following childbirth, hormonal changes post-menopause and surgeries for Caesarian section or uterus removal are among the leading causes for various urogynaecological disorders, said S. Dhanalakshmi, hospital superintendent.

The hospital has opened a fistula ward which has treated over 1,000 poor women with the disorders, said Vasantha Subbaiah, deputy superintendent.

The fourth international urogynaecology conference aims at imparting the latest knowledge in the speciality.

The surgeries at a renovated operation theatre would be shown live to around 1,000 delegates.

International experts from the U.S. and Australia are expected to share expertise.