Laparoscopic or transanal repair of rectocele? A retrospective matched cohort study

M J Thornton, A Lam, D W King
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 2005, 48 (4): 792-8

PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to analyze the functional and physiologic outcome of patients undergoing laparoscopic rectocele repair compared to a matched cohort undergoing transanal repair.

METHODS: Forty patients with a rectocele who had undergone laparoscopic pelvic floor repair by a laparoscopic gynecologist were matched for age and rectocele size with 40 patients who had undergone a transanal repair by a colorectal surgeon. All patients had clinical evidence of a symptomatic rectocele. All patients were assessed postoperatively with a quality of life (SF-36) score, a modified St. Mark's continence score, a urinary dysfunction score, a Watt's sexual dysfunction score, and a linear analog patient satisfaction score. Fifteen patients in each group had also undergone preoperative and postoperative anal manometry.

RESULTS: At 44 months median follow-up, the transanal approach resulted in significantly more patients reporting bowel symptom alleviation (P < 0.002) and higher patient satisfaction (P < 0.003). The bowel symptom improvement was also sustained over a significantly longer period (P < 0.03). Only 11 patients (28 percent) in the laparoscopic group reported more than 50 percent improvement in their bowel symptoms compared to 25 patients (63 percent) in the transanal group. On univariate analysis of 50 percent bowel symptom improvement, a larger rectocele (P < 0.009), transanal repair (P < 0.02), and presenting with obstructive defecation rather than fecal incontinence (P < 0.03) were statistically significant. Rectocele size (P < 0.012) and treatment cohort (P < 0.006) remained significant on multivariate analysis. Postoperatively, bowel symptom alleviation correlated with patient satisfaction in both groups (P < 0.015). Although not statistically significant, five patients (13 percent) in the transanal group developed postoperative fecal incontinence, which was associated with a low maximum anal resting pressure preoperatively that was further diminished postoperatively (P > 0.06). Only one patient (3 percent) in the laparoscopic group reported a decline in fecal continence, but four patients (10 percent) reported worsening of their symptoms of obstructed defecation. Postoperative dyspareunia was reported by 24 patients in total (30 percent), with significantly more in the transanal group (P > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: The transanal repair results in a statistically greater alleviation of bowel symptoms and greater patient satisfaction scores. However, this approach may have a greater degree of functional co-morbidity than the laparoscopic rectocele repair.

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