Vaginal versus abdominal reconstructive surgery for the treatment of pelvic support defects: A prospective randomized study with long-term outcome evaluation

J. T. Benson, V. Lucente, E. McClellan, J. Cornella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

509 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Our purpose was to determine whether a vaginal or abdominal approach is more effective in correcting uterovaginal prolapse. STUDY DESIGN: Eighty-eight women with cervical prolapse to or beyond the hymen or with vaginal vault inversion >50% of its length and anterior vaginal wall descent to or beyond the hymen were randomized to a vaginal versus abdominal surgical approach. Forty-eight women underwent a vaginal approach with bilateral sacrospinous vault suspension and paravaginal repair, and 40 women underwent an abdominal approach with colposacral suspension and paravaginal repair. Ancillary procedures were performed as indicated. Detailed pelvic examination was performed postoperatively by the nonsurgeon coauthor yearly up to 5 years. The women were examined while standing during maximum strain. Surgery was classified as optimally effective if the woman remained asymptomatic, the vaginal apex was supported above the levator plate, and no protrusion of any vaginal tissue beyond the hymen occurred. Surgical effectiveness was considered unsatisfactory if the woman was symptomatic, the apex descended >50% of its length, or the vaginal wall protruded beyond the hymen. RESULTS: Eighty women (vaginal 42, abdominal 38) were available for evaluation at 1 to 5.5 years (mean 2.5 years). The groups were similar in age, weight, parity, and estrogen status, and 56% had undergone prior pelvic surgery. There was no significant difference between the groups in morbidity, complications, hemoglobin change, dyspareunia, pain, or hospital stay. The vaginal group had longer catheter use, more urinary tract infections, more incontinence, decreased operative time, and lower hospital charge. Surgical effectiveness was optimal in 29% of the vaginal group and 58% of the abdominal group and was unsatisfactory leading to reoperation in 33% of the vaginal group and 16% of the abdominal group. The reoperations included procedures for recurrent incontinence in 12% of the vaginal and 2% of the abdominal groups. The relative risk of optimal effectiveness by the abdominal route is 2.03 (95% confidence interval 1.22 to 9.83), and the relative risk of unsatisfactory outcome using the vaginal route is 2.11 (95% confidence interval 0.90 to 4.94). CONCLUSIONS: Reconstructive pelvic surgery for correction of significant pelvic support defects was more effective with an abdominal approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1422
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


  • Pelvic support defects
  • randomized study
  • reconstructive surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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