Defining success after surgery for pelvic organ prolapse

Matthew D. Barber, Linda Brubaker, Ingrid Nygaard, Thomas L. Wheeler, Joeseph Schaffer, Zhen Chen, Cathie Spino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To describe pelvic organ prolapse surgical success rates using a variety of definitions with differing requirements for anatomic, symptomatic, or re-treatment outcomes. METHODS: Eighteen different surgical success definitions were evaluated in participants who underwent abdominal sacrocolpopexy within the Colpopexy and Urinary Reduction Efforts trial. The participants' assessments of overall improvement and rating of treatment success were compared between surgical success and failure for each of the definitions studied. The Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to identify significant differences in outcomes between success and failure. RESULTS: Treatment success varied widely depending on definition used (19.2-97.2%). Approximately 71% of the participants considered their surgery "very successful," and 85.2% considered themselves "much better" than before surgery. Definitions of success requiring all anatomic support to be proximal to the hymen had the lowest treatment success (19.2-57.6%). Approximately 94% achieved surgical success when it was defined as the absence of prolapse beyond the hymen. Subjective cure (absence of bulge symptoms) occurred in 92.1% while absence of re-treatment occurred in 97.2% of participants. Subjective cure was associated with significant improvements in the patient's assessment of both treatment success and overall improvement, more so than any other definition considered (P<.001 and <.001, respectively). Similarly, the greatest difference in symptom burden and health-related quality of life as measured by the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Distress Inventory and Pelvic Organ Prolapse Impact Questionnaire scores between treatment successes and failures was noted when success was defined as subjective cure (P<.001). CONCLUSION: The definition of success substantially affects treatment success rates after pelvic organ prolapse surgery. The absence of vaginal bulge symptoms postoperatively has a significant relationship with a patient's assessment of overall improvement, while anatomic success alone does not. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:,, NCT00065845.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-609
Number of pages10
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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