Using cystoscopy to evaluate ureteral efflux and bladder integrity following benign gynecologic surgery increases the detection rate of urinary tract injuries.1 Currently, it is standard of care to perform a cystoscopy following anti-incontinence procedures, but there is no consensus among ObGyns regarding the use of universal cystoscopy following benign gynecologic surgery.2 A number of studies, however, have suggested potential best practices for evaluating urinary tract injury during pelvic surgery for benign gynecologic conditions.
Pelvic surgeries for benign gynecologic conditions, including fibroids, menorrhagia, and pelvic organ prolapse (POP), are common. More than 500,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and up to 11% of women will undergo at least one surgery for POP or urinary incontinence in their lifetime.3,4 During gynecologic surgery, the urinary tract is at risk, and the injury rate ranges from 0.02% to 2% for ureteral injury and from 1% to 5% for bladder injury.5,6
In a recent large randomized controlled trial, the rate of intraoperative ureteral obstruction following uterosacral ligament suspension (USLS) was 3.2%.7 Vaginal vault suspensions, as well as other vaginal cuff closure techniques, are common procedures associated with urinary tract injury.8 Additionally, ureteral injury during surgery for POP occurs in as many as 2% of anterior vaginal wall repairs.9
It is well documented that a delay in diagnosis of ureteral and/or bladder injuries is associated with increased morbidity, including the need for additional surgery to repair the injury; in addition, significant delay in identifying an injury may lead to subsequent sequela, such as renal injury and fistula formation.8
A large study in California found that 36.5% of hysterectomies performed for POP were performed by general gynecologists.10 General ObGyns performing these surgeries therefore must understand the risk of urinary tract injury during hysterectomy and reconstructive pelvic procedures so that they can appropriately identify, evaluate, and repair injuries in a timely fashion.
The best way to identify urinary tract injury at the time of gynecologic surgery is by cystoscopy, including a bladder survey and ureteral efflux evaluation. When should a cystoscopy be performed, and what is the best method for visualizing ureteral efflux? Can instituting universal cystoscopy for all gynecologic procedures make a difference in the rate of injury detection? In this Update, we summarize the data from 4 studies that help to answer these questions.
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