A study which was published recently in The Lancet revealed that hysterectomy or the surgical removal of the uterus may not only trigger vaginal vault prolapse but may also increase the risk of urinary incontinence. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden reported that women who had hysterectomy are more than twice as likely to undergo a surgery for urinary incontinence in the future.
Hysterectomy is the second most common surgical procedure in the United State with over 600,000 operations performed annually, next only to a caesarian section operation. Treatment for conditions such as irregular heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine fibroid, and prolapse of the uterus are the main reasons for this surgical procedure. Urinary incontinence, on the other hand, is the most common pelvic floor disorder affecting an estimated 18 million women.
Using a nationwide hospital discharge registry for the years 1973 to 2003, Dr. Daniel Altman and his team of researchers gathered data on 644,766 Swedish women. Of this number, 165,260 women had hysterectomies while 479,506 similarly aged women did not have any surgical procedures to remove the uterus.
Analysis of the data indicated that regardless of the type of hysterectomy performed; women who had their uterus removed were 2.4 times more likely to have surgeries for urinary incontinence. It was determined that the period within five years from the date of hysterectomy was the point where the risk was at its highest. It was further revealed that the risk of getting incontinence was higher if the hysterectomy was done before their menopause or after giving births several times.
The results of this study may have validated the connection between urinary incontinence and hysterectomy which many medical specialists have long believed. To both the patient and the attending physician, this confirmation may have significant implications.
Any woman who might consider having a hysterectomy may be made aware of the risks involved in such procedure before making a final decision. Knowledge of this possible consequence may prompt the healthcare provider to assess the circumstances more carefully before suggesting this procedure.
In view of the controversy surrounding vaginal sling procedures, a treatment method for SUI favored by many urogynecologic surgeons, these findings become even more significant. Severe complications experienced by thousands of patients have reportedly resulted from the use of these surgical mesh devices. Included in these complaints of severe complications were those experienced by women who were recommended to have sling procedures together with the removal of the uterus.
Thousands of patients who were implanted with these mesh devices have allegedly sustained serious injuries causing pain and suffering, permanent disability, and considerable physical deformity. Legal actions such as the filing of vaginal mesh lawsuits against different mesh manufacturers have been resorted to by these injured patients.