Safer, effective treatment of incontinence offered at Sycamore Shoals Hospital

Dr. Brent Laing (right) and Dr. John Green, who have offices located across from Sycamore Shoals Hospital, are offering a new procedure at Sycamore Shoals Hospital for the treatment of incontinence. They are the only physicians trained in the SPARC procedure, a 25-minute, out-patient procedure.

For women with incontinence, life can seem extremely limiting.
   There are fears about being out in public, trips in the car and even personal hygiene.
   But thanks to a cutting-edge treatment offered exclusively in Northeast Tennessee by Sycamore Shoals Hospital (SSH), those fears can be quickly, easily and safely put to an end.
   The SPARC Sling System treatment for women is a 25-minute, out-patient surgery that is so simple those who undergo the operation are generally back to work the next day.
   "We were one of the very first in the whole Southeast (United States) to perform this procedure," said Dr. Brent Laing, whose office is across the street from SSH.
   With a high success rate and low occurrence of side effects, Laing said the SPARC treatment is growing in popularity throughout the country.
   "It has changed the threshold for people who are willing to undergo surgery for incontinence," Laing said.
   Previously, other surgeries could take hours and required several days in the hospital. Many who underwent these older treatments, which are still being practiced at some other facilities, were unable to return to work for more than four weeks.
   "This is probably the biggest breakthrough in terms of new procedures since I've been in practice," said Dr. John Green, a gynecologist in practice with Laing.
   Green and Laing are the only two physicians in Northeast Tennessee trained in the SPARC procedure. In more than 100 operations the pair has performed, all have been successful.
   "It appears to be very much inside that 90-plus percent success rate nationwide," Laing said.
   Approved by the FDA only two years ago, this treatment involves two small incisions made in the lower abdomen through which the surgeon places small metal guide wires. These wires then pull a mesh sling around a woman's bladder as it is fixed back into its original position.
   A fallen bladder is a major cause of incontinence in women, especially those who have experienced childbirth.
   The inserted mesh is designed to naturally adhere itself to the bladder and the only stitches required are at the insertion points.
   The SPARC treatment is not used on men, though the doctors said similar treatments are becoming available, especially for men who have gone through prostate surgery.
   Because of the success and simplicity of the procedure, Drs. Laing and Green said nurses who have witnessed the treatment are now requesting it.
   "An (operating room) nurse is going to be your toughest critic in surgery," Laing said, adding the nurses have gained confidence in the new treatment. "Once they have seen how well this is working, they say, 'Oh, I can have that done.'"
   The surgery is covered by most insurance companies.
   "The insurance plans like it because it's a lot less expensive for them than the other treatments," Laing said.
   Incontinence is a very common aliment among women and about 50 percent of those experiencing this problem are suited for this treatment. The other half of those experiencing incontinence generally have chemical problems and are more properly treated by medication.
   "They have a different type of problem," Green said.