Published on September 15, 2020

Joliet Woman's Urinary Incontinence Relieved After Minimally Invasive Bladder Procedure at Silver Cross 

It doesn’t take much to trigger a leaky bladder. Simply exercising, sneezing, coughing or lifting something can cause embarrassing urine leakage. The condition, called stress urinary incontinence, is one of the most common problems facing women and can strike at any age.

Tammy Cleary
Tammy Cleary of Joliet enjoys an active lifestyle after treatment for urinary incontinence at Silver Cross. 

Just ask Tammy Cleary of Joliet.

“I was only 50 years old and having to wear a panty liner every day and would have to cross my legs when I was about to sneeze,” the mother of four remembers.  

Cleary first sought help from a urologist, a physician that specializes in the urinary system.  The doctor prescribed various medications that did not improve her symptoms. That’s when she mentioned the issue to her gynecologist, Nahla Merhi, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.

Dr. Merhi, a board-certified urogynecologist on staff at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, specializes in treating urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Dr. Merhi is also a robotic surgery expert and member of the Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital.

Dr. Merhi told Cleary she was experiencing a type of pelvic floor disorder known as stress incontinence, which causes an unintentional leakage of urine from the bladder.

Reasons for weakened pelvic floor muscles include pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, overuse of bladder irritants such as coffee, alcohol or carbonated beverages, obesity and smoking.

“No woman should have to live with the inconvenience of urinary incontinence, which can interrupt daily activities and be embarrassing to women,” Dr. Merhi said. “After listening to Tammy describe her symptoms and performing a physical exam, I ordered diagnostic testing to evaluate her bladder function. Since conservative treatments were ineffective, she was a great candidate for a procedure called a ‘bladder sling’.”

This surgery creates a “hammock” for the bladder to provide support to the urethra and bladder. This special sling is created by using the patient’s own tissue, animal or donor tissues, or synthetic mesh. The new sling helps keep the urethra closed so you do not leak urine unintentionally.

Cleary did her research about the bladder sling procedure and decided to move forward with the surgery at Silver Cross.

“The surgery was a breeze for me - I experienced little to no pain and was able to go home the same day I had the procedure. I was advised to stay away from heavy lifting for a while and went home with two tiny incisions that healed quickly,” said Cleary, grandmother of eight.

“I like to be active – I have eight grandchildren to keep up with – I was able to successfully return to the activities that were causing the incontinence issues before surgery. It’s great not having to cross my legs every time I have to cough or sneeze!” said Cleary.

Best of all, Cleary’s been symptom-free for several years.

“Tammy had her surgery a few years ago and is doing great,” Dr. Merhi added. “There have been new innovations in robotic technology since then and a new outpatient procedure called a ‘mini-sling’ is available. These new advancements have furthered the treatment of urinary incontinence by further reducing recovery time and requiring minimal anesthesia.”

For more information about robotic-assisted urogynecological procedures at Silver Cross, visit

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.