The lifetime risk of a woman having an operation for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) repair will almost be doubled to 20 percent by the time she reaches 80 years of age, according to the results of a recent study presented during the annual meeting of the American Urogynecologic Society. Risk of surgery for those diagnosed with these conditions had been pegged at 11 percent for over two decades and perhaps in millions of publications on pelvic floor disorders.
Data from 2007 to 2011 using population-based MarketScan databases was used as bases for this study which was conducted by a team led by Dr. Jennifer Wu of the University of North Carolina. From the claims of 51.8 million privately insured women, the team was able to identify 311,070 surgeries involving POP and SUI repairs performed during the period.
A woman’s lifetime risk for SUI surgery is 14.5 percent and 13.7 percent for POP by the age of 80 years, analysis of the data showed. The combined risk for either surgery was placed at 16 percent at age 70 years and to increase to 20 percent by the time the woman reaches 80 years of age.
Significant implications which may cause grave concerns to the medical world may arise with these new figures. It is worth noting that in the coming years, the actual number of women requiring surgery may actually be more than double since the women who will be growing older represent a very large portion of the population.
With more women requiring medical services, the need for more healthcare providers specializing in this field becomes very pressing. There might not be enough doctors to handle the needs of these women at the present rate of new surgeons learning this sub-specialty. To effectively address this problem which may become epidemic in proportion, the vital need for research and education may also become critical.
The very important issue of the method of surgery in treating these pelvic floor disorders may be raised anew, particularly the use of the very controversial surgical mesh. It might not be farfetched that the vaginal mesh problem may drag on in the absence of any order discontinuing the use of these pelvic implants in the repair of these conditions plus the fact that a large number of surgeons are advocating the use of these devices.
There are numerous surgeons who continue implanting these devices in treating their patients notwithstanding the debate on the merits of using vaginal mesh devices going on even among doctors. Even with the guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on using surgical mesh, patients will always put their unwavering trust on their attending physicians.
That the new crop of vaginal mesh devices will be rigorously tested for its safety and efficacy may be argued by mesh manufacturers, but events in the recent past cannot be ignored easily. A big number of women have suffered serious injuries from these devices which experts have labeled as defective. This has compelled the victims to take legal actions such as vaginal mesh lawsuits against the different mesh manufacturers.