The anatomic and functional outcomes of defect-specific rectocele repairs

W E Porter, A Steele, P Walsh, N Kohli, M M Karram
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1999, 181 (6): 1353-8; discussion 1358-9

OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to evaluate the anatomic, functional, and quality-of-life effects of site-specific posterior colporrhaphy in the surgical management of rectocele.

STUDY DESIGN: In a retrospective observational study 125 patients were studied who had undergone site-specific posterior colporrhaphy between 1995 and 1996, either alone or in conjunction with other pelvic procedures. Physical examination was performed >/=6 months after the operation to assess the anatomic success of the repair. Standardized questionnaires were used to assess quality of life, sexual function, and bowel function.

RESULTS: Surgical correction was found at follow-up examination to have been achieved in 82% of eligible patients (73/89). All daily aspects of living improved significantly (P <.05), including ability to do housework (56% improvement or cure), travel (58% improvement or cure), and social activities (60% improvement or cure). Emotional well-being also significantly improved after the operation, as measured by thoughts of embarrassment (57% improvement or cure) or frustration (71% improvement or cure). Sexual function was not affected; however, reports of dyspareunia significantly (P <.04) improved or were cured after the operation in 73% of patients (19/26), worsened in 19% of patients (5/26), and arose de novo in 3 patients. Results showed no other significant differences in vaginal dryness, orgasm ability, sexual desire, sexual frequency, or sexual satisfaction. Bowel symptoms were assessed subjectively and were noted to have significantly improved (P <.008) after the operation. The following improvement or cure rates were obtained: stooling difficulties, 55%; pelvic pain or pressure, 73%; vaginal mass, 74%; and splinting, 65%.

CONCLUSION: This study indicates that defect-specific posterior colporrhaphy is equal to or superior to traditional posterior colporrhaphy. This type of repair provides durable anatomic support and is successful in restoring bowel function. It does not detrimentally affect sexual function, may aid in the resumption of sexual activity, and significantly improves quality of life and social aspects of daily living.

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