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ROUNDTABLE: PART 1 OF 2: Using mesh to repair prolapse calls for more than a kit—it takes skill

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Mesh augmentation isn’t right for every prolapse repair—or every surgeon. When it is called for, mesh necessitates extra training, meticulous technique, and careful selection of patients.




MICKEY M. KARRAM, MD, moderator, is Director of Urogynecology at Good Samaritan Hospital and Voluntary Professor of ObGyn at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio.

SHLOMO RAZ, MD, is Professor of Urology and Chief of Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Urology at UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

VINCENT LUCENTE, MD, MBA, is Founder and Director of the Institute for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery in Allentown, Pa, and Clinical Professor of ObGyn at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

MARK D. WALTERS, MD, is Professor and Vice Chair of Gynecology, Section of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mesh kits for repairing prolapse are proliferating like crazy, just as they did for midurethral sling procedures. But mesh augmentation of prolapse surgeries requires more than a prepackaged assortment of tools and materials. In this article, moderator Mickey M. Karram, MD, and a panel of nationally recognized urogynecologists and urologists describe the literature on mesh augmentation and discuss indications, contraindications, techniques, applicable cases, and the considerable training required.

In Part 2, which will appear in the February issue of OBG Management, the panel tackles the thorny topic of complications, including erosion, extrusion, foreshortening of the vagina, dyspareunia, and pain. Their discussion focuses on ways to avoid these problems, and methods for correcting them.

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DR. KARRAM: To start, let’s quickly review the peer-reviewed literature on the use of mesh augmentation during surgery for pelvic organ prolapse.

DR. WALTERS: Until recently, most data concerned open abdominal sacrocolpopexy (ASC) using polypropylene or Merseline mesh. There is significant clinical experience with this operation, and multiple cohort studies show long-term cure rates of 78% to 100% for apical prolapse.1

At least two randomized controlled trials have compared open ASC with sutured vaginal colpopexy procedures, and ASC is certainly equal to—perhaps better than—all transvaginal sutured repairs.2,3

With ASC, most recurrences affect the distal half of the vagina and involve one or more of the following:

  • anterior or posterior vaginal wall prolapse (or both)
  • stress urinary incontinence (SUI)
  • distal rectocele.1,3

Mesh erosion occurs in 3.4% of cases and is usually easily managed.1 Other complications, including bowel injury, tend to be related to access, regardless of whether the operation is performed via laparotomy or laparoscopy.

Robotic sacrocolpopexy has become popular in recent years, and we will probably see data on this approach as we gain experience.

When it comes to vaginal mesh kits, the peer-reviewed literature is just beginning to expand, with many studies being presented at international meetings. For anterior and, possibly, apical vaginal prolapse, the cure rate after use of a mesh kit appears to be as high as, or higher than, the rate for sutured repairs.4 This high rate of anatomic cure is balanced somewhat by additional cost and complications involving mesh and the kits.

For posterior vaginal wall prolapse and rectocele, I firmly believe, based on our research and that of others, that sutured repairs are superior to graft-augmented surgery.5

When is mesh appropriate?

DR. KARRAM: What are the indications and contraindications for mesh augmentation of prolapse repair ( FIGURES 1 and 2 )?

DR. LUCENTE: I believe mesh is indicated in any patient in need of surgical repair of pelvic organ prolapse who is seeking optimal durability and is willing to accept the known risks of the surgery.

The issue becomes more complex when it comes to contraindications. Absolute contraindications are fairly obvious; they include medically unstable patients and those who may have an inactive infectious process within the pelvis or even undiagnosed abnormal uterine bleeding.

At our center, because the potential for dyspareunia and pelvic discomfort is our biggest concern, we have developed a profile of the patient who is more likely to develop these complaints. The profile includes any patient who has a chronic pain disorder of any type, but especially chronic pelvic pain disorders such as endometriosis and vulvodynia. Other risk factors appear to be a history of pelvic surgery involving any permanent material, suture or mesh, and young age.

So if we have a patient in her late 30s who has undergone reconstructive surgery using permanent sutures and who has an element of chronic pelvic pain, we would counsel her strongly to consider surgical options other than the use of synthetic mesh.


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