Bowel symptoms 1 year after surgery for prolapse: further analysis of a randomized trial of rectocele repair

A Marcus Gustilo-Ashby, Marie Fidela R Paraiso, John Eric Jelovsek, Mark D Walters, Matthew D Barber
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2007, 197 (1): 76.e1-5

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyze change in bowel function and its relationship to vaginal anatomy 1 year after rectocele repair and pelvic reconstruction in a randomized trial of 3 techniques of rectocele repair.

STUDY DESIGN: The study is an ancillary analysis of data from a randomized trial of 3 techniques of rectocele repair: posterior colporrhaphy, site-specific repair, and site-specific repair with Fortagen graft augmentation. Pelvic examination and validated questionnaires were obtained at baseline, 6 months, and 1 year after surgery. Bowel symptoms included straining, splinting, incomplete emptying, painful defecation, fecal urgency, and fecal incontinence. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of bothersome postoperative symptoms.

RESULTS: One hundred six women with Stage > or = 2 POP, which included a rectocele, were enrolled in the study. Ninety-nine underwent prolapse surgery that included a rectocele repair and completed at least 1 follow-up visit. Ninety-six percent of subjects underwent concomitant prolapse surgery. No differences in change in bowel symptoms were noted between treatment groups. On average, all bowel symptoms evaluated were significantly improved 1 year after surgery. The development of new "bothersome" bowel symptoms after surgery was uncommon (11%). After controlling for age, treatment group, comorbidities, and preoperative bowel symptoms, corrected postoperative vaginal support (Stage 0/1) was associated with a reduced risk of postoperative straining (adj. OR 0.17 95% CI 0.03 to 0.9) and feeling of incomplete emptying (adj. OR 0.1 95% CI 0.01 to 0.52). Normal support of the posterior vaginal wall (Bp < or = -2) was associated with a reduced risk of bothersome incomplete emptying (OR 0.08 95% CI 0.004 to 0.58) but not with other symptoms.

CONCLUSION: Resolution or improvement in bowel symptoms can be expected in the majority of women after rectocele repair and pelvic reconstruction. While all symptoms improved after surgery, a reduction in bothersome postoperative straining and incomplete emptying were specifically associated with cure of posterior vaginal wall prolapse.

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