Indexed on: 27 Mar '07Published on: 27 Mar '07Published in: The Lancet
Pelvic organ prolapse is downward descent of female pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus or post-hysterectomy vaginal cuff, and the small or large bowel, resulting in protrusion of the vagina, uterus, or both. Prolapse development is multifactorial, with vaginal child birth, advancing age, and increasing body-mass index as the most consistent risk factors. Vaginal delivery, hysterectomy, chronic straining, normal ageing, and abnormalities of connective tissue or connective-tissue repair predispose some women to disruption, stretching, or dysfunction of the levator ani complex, connective-tissue attachments of the vagina, or both, resulting in prolapse. Patients generally present with several complaints, including bladder, bowel, and pelvic symptoms; however, with the exception of vaginal bulging, none is specific to prolapse. Women with symptoms suggestive of prolapse should undergo a pelvic examination and medical history check. Radiographic assessment is usually unnecessary. Many women with pelvic organ prolapse are asymptomatic and do not need treatment. When prolapse is symptomatic, options include observation, pessary use, and surgery. Surgical strategies for prolapse can be categorised broadly by reconstructive and obliterative techniques. Reconstructive procedures can be done by either an abdominal or vaginal approach. Although no effective prevention strategy for prolapse has been identified, considerations include weight loss, reduction of heavy lifting, treatment of constipation, modification or reduction of obstetric risk factors, and pelvic-floor physical therapy.