Review Article

International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 707-718

First online:

Where to for pelvic organ prolapse treatment after the FDA pronouncements?

A systematic review of the recent literature
  • J. M. van GeelenAffiliated withFoundation of pelvic floor patients (SBP), The Netherlands Email author 
  • , P. L. DwyerAffiliated withDepartment Urogynecology, Mercy Hospital for Women, University of Melbourne

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With the publication of the updated US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communication in 2011 on the use of transvaginal placement of mesh for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) it is appropriate to now review recent studies of good quality on POP to assess the safety and effectiveness of treatment options and determine their place in management.


A systematic search for studies on the conservative and surgical management of POP published in the English literature between January 2002 and October 2012 was performed. Studies included were review articles, randomized controlled trials, prospective and relevant retrospective studies as well as conference abstracts. Selected articles were appraised by the authors regarding clinical relevance.


Prospective comparative studies show that vaginal pessaries constitute an effective and safe treatment for POP and should be offered as first treatment of choice in women with symptomatic POP. However, a pessary will have to be used for the patient’s lifetime. Abdominal sacral colpopexy is effective in treating apical prolapse with an acceptable benefit-risk ratio. This procedure should be balanced against the low but non-negligible risk of serious complications. The results of native tissue vaginal POP repair are better than previously thought with high patient satisfaction and acceptable reoperation rates. The insertion of mesh at the time of anterior vaginal wall repair reduces the awareness of prolapse as well as the risk of recurrent anterior prolapse. There is no difference in anatomic and subjective outcome when native tissue vaginal repairs are compared with multicompartment vaginal mesh. Mesh exposure is still a significant problem requiring surgical excision in approximately ≥10 % of cases. The ideal mesh has not yet been found necessitating more basic research into mesh properties and host response. Several studies indicate that greater surgical experience is correlated with fewer mesh complications. In women with uterovaginal prolapse uterine preservation is a feasible option which women should be offered. Randomized studies with long-term follow-up are advisable to establish the place of uterine preservation in POP surgery.


Over the last decade treatment of POP has been dominated by the use of mesh. Conservative treatment is the first option in women with POP. Surgical repair with or without mesh generally results in good short-term objective and functional outcomes. However, basic research into mesh properties with host response and comparative studies with long-term follow-up are urgently needed.


Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) Conservative management of POP POP repair Vaginal surgery Transvaginal mesh Uterine preservation