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J Urol. 1999 Jan;161(1):93-6.

Complications of sterile abscess formation and pulmonary embolism following periurethral bulking agents.

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Department of Urology, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Agents currently used in the treatment of urinary incontinence secondary to intrinsic sphincter deficiency are effective and minimally invasive. Ensuring a lack of sensitivity to the product or use of autologous material, such as fat, minimizes significant problems. However, local and systemic complications can occur with any bulking agent. We describe rare complications of periurethral bulk injections.


Three cases of sterile abscess formation and 1 of pulmonary embolism after periurethral bulk injections were reviewed. Two patients with intrinsic sphincter deficiency were treated with transurethral injection of glutaraldehyde cross-linked collagen at the Mayo Clinic, 1 also treated with collagen for intrinsic sphincter deficiency was referred from elsewhere and 1 underwent periurethral injection of autologous fat for intrinsic sphincter deficiency elsewhere. Clinical information and patient followup were obtained from medical records and discussion with treating physicians.


Three patients treated with collagen presented with sterile abscesses at the injection site after routine transurethral injection. Documentation of the abscesses included cystoscopic findings, magnetic resonance imaging of the pelvis and/or transvaginal ultrasound. Drainage procedures for relief of obstructive and irritative voiding symptoms were required in 2 patients. In 1 of these patients transurethral unroofing failed, and transvaginal incision and drainage were required while the other had slow spontaneous improvement but a mass remained at the injection site 3 months later. Repeat skin testing was negative in 2 of 3 cases. Currently, these 3 patients are asymptomatic except for continued urinary incontinence. Pulmonary embolism was documented in 1 patient who underwent periurethral autologous fat injection. This patient survived without long-term consequences but was maintained on ventilatory support for a short time.


In general, periurethral injection of bulk agents is safe and effective. However, injectable bulk agents are not without risk of complications, some of which are life threatening and others of considerable morbidity that may require operative intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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