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The Standardization of Terminology for Researchers in Female Pelvic Floor Disorders

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The lack of standardized terminology in pelvic floor disorders (pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence) is a major obstacle to performing and interpreting research. The National Institutes of Health convened the Terminology Workshop for Researchers in Female Pelvic Floor Disorders to: (1) agree on standard terms for defining conditions and outcomes; (2) make recommendations for minimum data collection for research; and (3) identify high priority issues for future research. Pelvic organ prolapse was defined by physical examination staging using the International Continence Society system. Stress urinary incontinence was defined by symptoms and testing; ‘cure’ was defined as no stress incontinence symptoms, negative testing, and no new problems due to intervention. Overactive bladder was defined as urinary frequency and urgency, with and without urge incontinence. Detrusor instability was defined by cystometry. For all urinary symptoms, defining ‘improvement’ after intervention was identified as a high priority. For fecal incontinence, more research is needed before recommendations can be made. A standard terminology for research on pelvic floor disorders is presented and areas of high priority for future research are identified.

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EDITORIAL COMMENT: This is a compilation of opinions regarding the need for standardization of terminology for pelvic floor dysfunction. Some of their definitions may or may not be appropriate, however, we are now in the process of defining what represents prolapse versus normal, and what represents a cure after intervention versus persistence. Hopefully this document will serve as a starting point to allow for further discussions and revisions of these definitions as we study this complex problem.

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Weber, A., Abrams, P., Brubaker, L. et al. The Standardization of Terminology for Researchers in Female Pelvic Floor Disorders . Int Urogynecol J 12, 178–186 (2001).

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