Meet Our Researchers: Can surgery effectively treat pelvic floor disorders (PFDs)?

In observation of National Women’s Health Week 2014, NICHD medical officer Dr. Susan F. Meikle and PFD Network grantee Dr. Matthew D. Barber discussed the importance of research in developing better treatments for PFDs, including urinary and fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Listen to Dr. Barber talk about the effectiveness of two kinds of surgery compared in a recent study.


Audio recording (MP3 - 1 MB)


Dr. Barber: I would say overall, they’re effective. And in many ways, it depends on how you define effective. So, looking at a very strict definition of success, the 2-year outcomes for this operation were about 60%. That said, less than 5% of patients in either group required additional treatment for recurrence of the operation. And only about 10% or 15% developed recurrent symptoms.

We don’t get perfect outcomes. And it’s unlikely that any of the operations that we’ve talked about get perfect outcomes. But we do improve a great majority of women. And the risk of needing additional treatment, at least in the studies that are available now, appear to be in the single digits over time.

I would say they’re effective but not perfect, and that we will—we need to continue to work through research to determine what the best procedure is for the individual woman, and how to get the best long-term outcomes and avoid unnecessary complications.

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