Surgery to Treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse May Fail One in Four Women, New Study Finds

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vaginal_bulge_surgerySurgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) provides only temporary relief for many women, a newly published study reports.

About 225,000 women undergo surgery annually to treat POP, a condition in which the uterus, bladder, or vaginal walls bulge into the vagina, Bloomberg News reports. According to the researchers, though, about one-quarter of women experience renewed prolapse within seven years. Ingrid Nygaard, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City and one of the researchers, said most women were better off after the surgery, but, she told Bloomberg News, women need to be aware of how long the benefits may last.

When researchers took into account the return of prolapse symptoms, the surgery failed in 48 percent of women after seven years. The researchers report that 81 percent of women who did not have repeat surgery developed incontinence, while 75 percent of those who did have the surgery developed incontinence. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study did not involve transvaginal mesh implants, which have come under increasing scrutiny in the treatment of POP. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that these devices are potentially dangerous and need more study, according to Bloomberg News. Last year the agency ordered 31 manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson and C.R. Bard Inc., to collect multiyear data on the safety of their products. Women who have received transvaginal mesh implants report infections, bleeding, organ perforation, urinary problems, and pain during sexual intercourse; some have needed repeat surgeries to remove the mesh and repair organ damage. Many women have filed lawsuits against transvaginal mesh manufacturers.