Diagnosing & Treating Pelvic Health Disorders

At the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Pelvic Health, our specialists collaborate to accurately and effectively diagnose and treat your pelvic health problem.

Because UChicago Medicine is an academic medical center, our physician-scientists are on top of the most advanced therapies and procedures. It is their goal to consistently learn more about how to best treat these disorders through their research and interactions with peers around the world. Yet the most important member of our team is you. We strive to provide patients with a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that addresses what is most important to you, taking into account your particular needs and preferences.

Patients who come to UChicago Medicine’s Center for Pelvic Health benefit from one of the most experienced imaging teams in the country.

Some of our services include:

  • Computed tomography of the pelvis, which uses X-rays to create cross-sections of the body
  • Cystoscopy, a procedure to look inside the bladder using a tiny camera
  • Urodynamics, a series of tests to provide information about the function of bladder and urinary muscles
  • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to view the anatomy in the pelvis or anus
  • Pelvic magnetic resonance imaging, which uses magnets to create detailed pictures of the body
  • Anoscopy, in which a small instrument is inserted into the anus to check the anal canal
  • Anorectal manometry, which checks the muscles that keep stool inside the body
  • Defecography, which shows how much stool the rectum can hold, how well it can hold it and how well it can empty it

Many pelvic floor disorders can be treated successfully without surgery. For this reason, strategies such as behavior changes, physical therapy and medication are often the first approach for many patients.

When symptoms fail to improve with nonsurgical treatment, our experienced surgeons can often relieve symptoms with surgery. Some of these procedures can be performed using minimally invasive techniques.The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Less pain
  • Less injury to tissue
  • Minimal scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Faster return to normal activities

In fact, many patients who have these less invasive procedures can go home the same day.

Some of the surgical treatments available include:

  • Urethral bulking, which involves injections to reduce urine leakage
  • Anal bulking, which uses injections to reduce fecal leakage
  • Midurethral slings, which are small mesh slings placed under the urethra to help prevent stress incontinence in women and men
  • An artificial sphincter, an implanted device that keeps the urethra closed until men are able to urinate

Our high-volume center draws expertise from one of the top urology practices in the country. Our urology team can help men who may suffer from incontinence related to treatment for prostate, bladder or kidney cancer.

Our team also includes a nationally recognized urogynecology team that was one of the first in Chicago to perform minimally invasive robotic surgery for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and genitourinary fistulas. This team was also the first in the region to utilize single-site robotic surgery for hysterectomy and sacrocolpopexy, minimizing the number of incisions needed during surgery.

For women who require complex reconstructive procedures to the pelvis, our team includes plastic and reconstructive surgeons who are skilled at rebuilding tissues using advanced surgical techniques that promote wound healing. This can help patients who have congenital abnormalities of the genitourinary tract or who have significant scarring because of previous surgery or radiation treatment. Our plastic and reconstructive team is also on hand to help patients who are interested in pursuing a cosmetic treatment, such as a tummy tuck, at the time of their surgery.

Our nationally recognized gastroenterology and colorectal surgery team has a longstanding reputation for their treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Some IBD patients require pelvic floor testing to determine the best treatment approach. In addition, these colorectal surgeons have performed more than 1,000 surgeries on patients with a range of digestive and pelvic floor conditions.