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Burch Procedure

What is a burch procedure?

Burch procedure is performed to treat urinary incontinence, and is a surgical procedure in which the neck of the bladder is suspended from nearby ligaments with sutures.

When is it used?

The Burch procedure is used when the bladder or urethra has fallen out of its normal position. The goal is to restore them to their normal position in the pelvis. This procedure should improve stress urinary incontinence, which means that you leak urine from your bladder whenever you cough, sneeze and bear down.

What are the benefits?

The procedure should allow easy, effective control of urinary function. It should help you be more active. You might be able to resume your normal level of activity without leaking urine.

What are the risks associated with this procedure?

As with any medical procedure, there are risks. Please discuss with us any additional concern you may have. The following is a list of the risks associated with the burch procedure:

  • Damage to a vein or artery that could cause serious bleeding.
  • Making a hole in your bladder that could cause a tract (fistula) between your vagina and bladder.
  • That your urine leakage may not be improved.
  • That your bulging bladder (cystocele) may not improve or could return.
  • Damage to you ureters, the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder.
  • That you may have difficulty emptying your bladder.
  • That you may develop bulging in your rectum (rectocele) or you vagina (vaginal vault eversion).
  • That you may develop infection in your incision, the area around your bladder, or your bladder.

How do I prepare for a burch procedure?

Follow your health care provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers heal more slowly after surgery. They are also more likely to have breathing problems during surgery. For this reason, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery. Also, your wounds will heal much better if you do not smoke after surgery.  Follow any other instructions your provider gives you. If you are to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before midnight. Do not eat or drink after midnight.  Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.

What happens after the procedure?

You may stay in the hospital about 1 to 2 days. However, the catheter may stay in your bladder 2 to 6 days or until your bladder is working again.

During the first 4 weeks after the operation, you may have some small, sometimes bloody drainage from your vagina. This drainage is normal and should not be a cause for concern.


Create a plan for your care and recovery after the operation, and allow plenty of time to rest. Try to find other people to help you with your day-to-day duties.

Avoid all heavy activity such as lifting for the first 2 weeks. Then follow your physician’s recommendations for gradually increasing your activity. Ask what other steps you should take and schedule follow-up visits with your health care provider.

When should I call Greenville OB/GYN?

Call our emergency number at any time if:

  • You have a fever over 100 F (37.8 C).

Call during regular office hours if:

  • You have questions about the procedure or its result.
  • You want to make another appointment.