The use of transvaginal mesh implants for POP and urinary incontinence is currently being extensively debated among experts as well as the general public. Regulations surrounding the use of these implants differ depending on the country. Although in the USA, the UK, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France, transvaginal mesh implants have been removed from the market, in most mainland European countries, Asia, and South America, they are still available as a surgical option for POP correction. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the historical timeline and the current situation worldwide, as well as to critically discuss the implications of the latest developments in urogynecological patient care and the training of doctors.
INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS:
There is a need for expanded access to safe surgical care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as illustrated by the report of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. Packages of closely-related surgical procedures may create platforms of capacity that maximize impact in LMIC. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and genital fistula care provide an example. Although POP affects many more women in LMICs than fistula, donor support for fistula treatment in LMICs has been underway for decades, whereas treatment for POP is usually limited to hysterectomy-based surgical treatment, occurring with little to no donor support. This capacity-building discrepancy has resulted in POP care that is often non-adherent to international standards and in non-integration of POP and fistula services, despite clear areas of similarity and overlap. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and potential value of integrating POP services at fistula centers.
Fistula repair sites supported by the Fistula Care Plus project were surveyed on current demand for and capacity to provide POP, in addition to perceptions about integrating POP and fistula repair services.
Respondents from 26 hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia completed the survey. Most fistula centers (92%) reported demand for POP services, but many cannot meet this demand. Responses indicated a wide variation in assessment and grading practices for POP; approaches to lower urinary tract symptom evaluation; and surgical skills with regard to compartment-based POP, and urinary and rectal incontinence. Fistula surgeons identified integration synergies but also potential conflicts.
Women living in resource constrained settings often have limited knowledge of and access to surgical treatment for pelvic organ prolapse. Additionally, little is known about experiences during recovery periods or about the reintegration process for women who do gain access to medical services, including surgery. This study aimed to explore women’s experiences related to recovery and reintegration after free surgical treatment for pelvic organ prolapse in a resource-constrained setting.
The study had a qualitative design and used in-depth interviews in the data collection with a purposive sample of 25 participants, including 12 women with pelvic organ prolapse. Recruitment took place at the University of Gondar Hospital, Ethiopia, where women with pelvic organ prolapse had been admitted for free surgical treatment. In-depth interviews were carried out with women at the hospital prior to surgery and in their homes 5-9 months following surgery. Interviews were also conducted with health-care providers (8), representatives from relevant organizations (3), and health authorities (2). The fieldwork was carried out in close collaboration with a local female interpreter.
The majority of the women experienced a transformation after prolapse surgery. They went from a life dominated by fear of disclosure, discrimination, and divorce due to what was perceived as a shameful and strongly prohibitive condition both physically and socially, to a life of gradually regained physical health and reintegration into a social life. The strong mobilization of family-networks for most of the women facilitated work-related help and social support during the immediate post-surgery period as well as on a long-term basis. The women with less extensive social networks expressed greater challenges, and some struggled to meet their basic needs. All the women openly disclosed their health condition after surgery, and several actively engaged in creating awareness about the condition.
Free surgical treatment substantially improved the health and social life for most of the study participants. The impact of the surgery extended to the communities in which the women lived through increased openness and awareness and thus had the potential to ensure increased disclosure among other women who suffer from this treatable condition.