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Assessing Complications of Pelvic Floor Disorder Reconstructive Surgery

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“Pelvic floor disorder” is a broad term used to describe a number of conditions caused by damage to the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic region. These include an inability to completely control the bladder (urinary incontinence) and pelvic organ prolapse, a weakening of the supporting tissues of the lower pelvis. Nearly one-quarter of all women are affected by pelvic floor disorders, and these conditions can significantly affect a woman’s quality of life. 

The most common treatments for pelvic floor disorders involve surgery. Unfortunately, the surgical procedures needed to correct these conditions can carry the risk for serious complications. Surgeons and patients must consider the benefits and risks of various surgical procedures. However, assessing options has been difficult without comparable data on the outcomes associated with the different pelvic floor surgeries.

To make outcome comparison easier, a team of surgeons supported through the Gynecological Health and Disease Branch rated complications of pelvic surgeries based on severity, the effect on the patient, and duration of disability. Using these ratings, the team created a Pelvic Floor Complication Scale (PFCS) and then retrospectively calculated PFCS scores for 977 surgical patients. The investigators also classified the same patients’ complications using a modified version of the Clavien-Dindo scale, an established measure of general surgical complications that does not take into account the unique complications associated with pelvic surgery.

The two different scales performed similarly in measuring outcomes during the first three months after pelvic surgery. Both scales provided useful assessments of surgical complications. The new PFCS scale can more accurately classify complications that are related specifically to pelvic surgeries (PMID: 22777367 and PMID: 22777368). 

Last Reviewed: 05/01/2014
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