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Minerva Ginecologica 2013 February;65(1):53-67


language: English

Complications in pelvic floor surgery

Alvarez J. 1, Cvach K. 1, Dwyer P. 1, 2

1 Department of Urogynecology, Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Australia; 2 University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Pelvic floor disorders affect the quality of life of millions of women worldwide. Many options exist for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, surgery being one of the main strategies in the management of these conditions. Even though uncommon, all surgery has complications which can cause morbidity and rarely mortality. These complications can impair quality of life in the long-term and be a financial burden on both the patient and the health care system. Pelvic floor reconstructive surgery includes perioperative complications such as injury to neighboring organs, hemorrhage and infection. Recently the International Urogynecology Association and the International Continence Society have proposed a terminology and classification of complications related to female pelvic floor surgery, both using native tissue and synthetic implants to improve surgical audit and aid comparison between studies on pelvic floor procedures. Long-term complications such as pelvic pain and dyspareunia may be as high as 25%. Prolapse surgery associated with mesh may result in better anatomical outcomes but this is offset by the high complication rate, particularly that of mesh exposure which has been reported to be between 3-15%. Minimally invasive anti-incontinence procedures are associated with less morbidity than their abdominal predecessors but they are not free of complications. Complications of mid-urethral slings include those of mesh exposure (0.3%), voiding dysfunction (7%) and de novo urgency (25%). The risk and severity of complications varies depending on the procedure performed and on patient characteristics and, therefore, patients need to be informed of these risks or clinicians will be held responsible. This has never been more true than now with the debate regarding the value of transvaginal mesh and laparoscopic procedures for prolapse, their risks and potential benefits, and the associated medico-legal sequelae.

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