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Older women have good functional recovery after POP surgery



The majority of older women undergoing pelvic organ prolapse (POP) surgery achieved good functional recovery at 3 months post procedure, according to a new study.

Dr. Daniel Lee, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Jim Kling/MDedge News

Dr. Daniel Lee

Functional status was defined as the ability to perform activities essential to self-care, independent living, and recreation.

Patients with the highest level of function at baseline actually had a slight decrease in functionality scores, although this difference was not clinically meaningful.

“We can tell patients: You’re high functioning, your prolapse is bothering you in other ways, but we’re going to keep you as high functioning as you are now. I think that’s really important for older women who are retired and want to stay active. They want to make sure they don’t have a surgery that’s going to make them less so,” Daniel Lee, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said in an interview. Dr. Lee presented the study at the annual scientific meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons.

The study used data from multiple centers across the United States and a range of patient ethnicities. “That helped strengthen the conclusions,” Dr. Lee said. Most previous studies used generalized questionnaires rather than functional outcome questionnaires to determine patient outcomes.

One confounder is the potential presence of cognitive dysfunction, which can occur sometimes in older women following surgery. The study relied on surveys and excluded patients who weren’t able to understand them. Two patients were much worse after the surgery, and Dr. Lee speculated that cognitive dysfunction could have been the cause, although the team could not confirm that. “There’s a possibility that preexisting dementia or cognitive dysfunction could be unmasked by the surgery,” he said. The team is working to incorporate accelerometers to more objectively measure outcomes and will soon publish a feasibility study of their use in older women with cognitive dysfunction.

One limitation of the study was that it excluded women who were considered poor candidates for surgery. But that also suggests that patient selection is working as intended. “I think it just shows that surgeons do a very good job of figuring out who is a good surgical candidate, that they turn out to be better off [functionally] or that their prolapse gets improved,” Dr. Lee said.

The researchers analyzed questionnaire data from 176 women. The mean age was 72 years, and mean body mass index was 27 kg/m2; 87% of the women were Caucasian and 10% were black. Using the Activities Assessment Scale (AAS), which covers sedentary, ambulatory, and work/exercise domains, as well as the Patient Health Questionnaire to measure depression, the researchers found that, by 3 months, 59% of patients had an improved functional status, 35% had returned to within one standard deviation of baseline, and 6% had worsened, compared with their baseline scores.

Patients in the improved group started at a mean baseline total AAS score of 85 and improved to 100 at 3 months. Those who returned to baseline started at 100 on average and returned to 100 at 3 months, while those in the worsened group had a mean baseline score of 100 and a mean score of 93 at 3 months (P less than .001 for all comparisons).

The study was funded by the Fellows Pelvic Research Network. The investigators reported no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Lee D et al. SGS 2019, Abstract 09.

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