2009, pp 117-132

Surgery for Stress Urinary Incontinence: Historical Review

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Why a historical survey of surgery for stress incontinence? There are several reasons. First, there is much to learn from the mistakes of the past. In the words of Miguel de Santayana, “Those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.” There was a time, for example, when surgeons were taught that to be effective, slings needed to be tied tightly enough to compress the urethra. That resulted in some disastrous complications and we do not do that any more. Second, as pointed out by Issac Newton, the accumulated experience of those who have gone before forms the substrate on which we formulate the innovations of the future. Relating to his own work, he said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Relating to stress incontinence, the history of proposed pathophysiology and classification serves as a cogent example of this concept.

In Hinman’s textbook of urology, published in 1935, fewer than 2 of 1,111 pages were devoted to incontinenc ...