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Dr. Soo Kwon is one of the first group of surgeons to obtain the board certification that specializes in taking care of women who have pelvic floor disorders. Patients may exhibit problems with control of bowel and bladder. Pelvic floor disorders may also include problems with a loss of support of the vagina, bladder, and/or rectum which may cause an uncomfortable vaginal bulge (prolapse) as well as difficulty with urination or bowel function. Office-based testing such as cystoscopy and urodynamics (bladder testing) may be ordered when needed based on findings of the initial consultation.
Dr. Kwon has 20 years of experience in taking care of women with pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse, fistulas, and urinary incontinence. Treatments include a wide range of office-based procedures, medications, vaginal pessaries, and minimally invasive surgeries.
Dr. Kwon is an integral member of the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health, a multidisciplinary program focused on comprehensive care for the physical, emotional, and social issues of patients who have pelvic floor disorders. More information on the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health at Rush Medical Center may be found here.
Thirty to forty percent of American women admit to having problems with urinary leakage. Many of these women delay in getting help for their problem for years due to feeling embarrassed about their condition.
Dr. Kwon has helped thousands of women find relief from this distressing condition. Our dedicated staff put patients at ease and help them find the best treatment option for their particular issue. Our urogynecology team regularly cares for women with stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overactive bladder, and other urinary incontinence conditions.
Surgery can be an option for treating some types of urinary incontinence. This may include a variety of minimally invasive options, including:
- Urethral bulking, a procedure that involves the use of injections to build up the thickness of the urethra to prevent leakage
- Suburethral slings, which are small mesh slings placed under the urethra to help prevent urinary leaks
- Botox therapy, which involves injections of Botox to help block the unwanted contractions of an overactive bladder while leaving surrounding muscles able to function properly
Vaginal pessaries can be used to elevate the vagina and provide support to the bladder in patients without the need for surgery. A pessary is a small, removable silicone or plastic device that is inserted through the vagina to help hold pelvic organs in place. Many different types of pessaries are available that can be fitted comfortably to provide vaginal support and continence in patients who have stress urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence is leakage of urine due to laughing, coughing, sneezing, or physical activities that may increase abdominal pressure.
There are many effective medications available to treat urinary incontinence. The choice of medication prescribed depends on the type of problem causing the incontinence.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Female pelvic floor physical therapy is a highly specialized therapy that helps patients improve upon bladder and bowel control issues. Dr. Kwon can provide you with information and a list of qualified women’s health physical therapists close to your home who can teach you how to get better strength and use your pelvic floor muscles to help with better bladder control.
A fistula is an abnormal opening between two organs or an organ and the outside. The urine or stool flows from the high pressure side (urinary tract or bowel) to the low pressure side (vagina). The most common types are between the bladder and vagina (vesico-vaginal), urethra and vagina (urethra-vaginal), and rectum and vagina (recto-vaginal). Less commonly you may see fistulas between the ureter (tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and vagina (uretero-vaginal) or the colon and the uterus (colo-uterine).
In developing countries fistulas are almost always due to injury from childbirth, or ritual cutting of the vagina to enhance fertility or the labor process. In the states, urinary fistulas are usually due to surgery complications while rectal fistulas can be due to delivery injuries, surgery, or inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s. Sometimes women develop colo-uterine (colon to uterus) or colo-vaginal fistulas with diverticulitis. Fistula due to colon cancer must be excluded in these cases. Fistulas almost always require surgery to close. Dr. Kwon travels to Africa annually to help women find relief from this distressing condition.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)
The loss of support of the vagina, bladder, and uterus is a common problem. Women with POP will experience a sensation of pressure or a bulge from the vagina that may cause associated bladder or bowel problems.
Treatment options include vaginal supportive pessaries, and minimally invasive or abdominal surgeries to restore support of the vagina and pelvic organs. Dr. Kwon will help patients with POP find a treatment that best suite their needs and lifestyle.
Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery is performed through the vagina, so that there are no incisions made through the abdominal wall into the abdominal cavity, or laparoscopically, often called belly-button surgery, or robotically. The DaVinci Robot is used to assist in complex surgery for pelvic reconstruction. Dr. Kwon specializes in DaVinci robotic surgery and patients enjoy the advantages of robotic surgery. Advantages include less risk, less pain, and quicker recovery with equally good or even better results than a large incision.
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Director of the division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Rush University Medical Center
Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rush Medical College.
Dr. Soo Kwon is the Director of the division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Rush University Medical Center and an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rush Medical College.
Dr. Kwon earned her medical degree at University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Following completion of her residency, she practiced in Baltimore and New York City for five years. Dr. Kwon then decided to specialize in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and completed her fellowship at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, College of Medicine. She is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.
Dr. Kwon’s clinical interests include urinary and anal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and rectovaginal and vesicovaginal fistula. Dr. Kwon has treated all levels of patients. She has been involved in various research projects and has participated in publications.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Urogynecologist?
A urogynecologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist who has specialized in the care of women with pelvic floor disorder. The pelvic floor is the muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, and nerves that help support and control the rectum, uterus, vagina, and bladder. The pelvic floor can be damaged by childbirth, repeated heavy lifting, chronic disease, or surgery.
Some problems due to pelvic floor disorder and their symptoms are:
- Incontinence: loss of bladder or bowel control, leakage of urine or feces.
- Prolapse: descent of pelvic organs; a bulge and/or pressure; ‘dropped uterus, bladder, vagina or rectum.’
- Emptying Disorders: difficulty urinating or moving bowels.
- Pelvic (or Bladder) Pain: discomfort, burning or other uncomfortable pelvic symptoms, including bladder or urethral pain.
- Overactive Bladder: frequent need to void, bladder pressure, urgency, urgency incontinence, or difficulty holding back a full bladder.
What kind of training does a Urogynecologist have?
Urogynecologists have completed medical school and a four-year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. These doctors become specialists with additional training and experience in the evaluation and treatment of conditions that affect the female pelvic organs, and the muscles and connective tissue that supports the organs. The additional training focuses on the surgical and non-surgical treatment of non-cancerous gynecologic problems.
When should I see a Urogynecologist?
Although your primary care physician or OB/GYN may have knowledge about these problems, a urogynecologist can offer additional expertise. You should see (or be referred to) a urogynecologist when you have problems of prolapse, and/or troublesome incontinence or when your primary doctor recommends consultation. Other problems for which you or your doctor might think about consulting a urogynecologist include: problems with emptying the bladder or rectum, pelvic pain,
and the need for special expertise in vaginal surgery.
What treatment options are available from a Urogynecologist?
A urogynecologist can recommend a variety of therapies to cure or relieve symptoms of prolapse, urinary or fecal incontinence, or other pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms. He or she may advise conservative (non-surgical) or surgical therapy depending on your wishes, the severity of your condition, and your general health. Conservative options include medications, pelvic exercises, behavioral and/or dietary modifications, and vaginal devices (also called pessaries). Biofeedback and Electric Stimulation are two newer treatment modalities that your urogynecologist may recommend. Safe and effective surgical procedures are also utilized by the urogynecologist to treat incontinence and prolapse. He or she will discuss all of the options that are available to treat your specific problem(s) before you are asked to make a treatment decision.