|Female genital prolapse|
|Uterine prolapse in a 71-year-old woman, with the cervix visible in the vaginal orifice.|
|Classification and external resources|
Uterine prolapse is a form of female genital prolapse. It is also called pelvic organ prolapse or prolapse of the uterus (womb).
Risk factors for uterine prolapse include pregnancy, childbirth, chronic increases in intra-abdominal pressure such as lifting, coughing or straining, connective tissue conditions, and damage to or weakness of the muscles.
Treatment may be conservative or surgical and should be based upon patient symptoms and preference.
Pathophysiology and causes
The uterus (womb) is normally held in place by a hammock of muscles and ligaments. Prolapse happens when the ligaments supporting the uterus become so weak that the uterus cannot stay in place and slips down from its normal position. These ligaments are the round ligament, uterosacral ligaments, broad ligament and the ovarian ligament. The uterosacral ligaments are by far the most important ligaments in preventing uterine prolapse.
In some cases of uterine prolapse, the uterus can be unsupported enough to extend past the vaginal wall for inches.
The most common cause of uterine prolapse is trauma during childbirth, in particular multiple or difficult births. About 50% of women who have had children develop some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. It is more common as women get older, particularly in those who have gone through menopause. This condition is surgically correctable.
Treatment is conservative, mechanical or surgical. Conservative options include behavioral modification and muscle strengthening exercises such as Kegel exercise. Pessaries are a mechanical treatment as they elevate and support the uterus. Surgical options are many and may include a hysterectomy or a uterus-sparing technique such as laparoscopic hysteropexy, sacrohysteropexy or the Manchester operation.
In the case of hysterectomy, the procedure can be accompanied by sacrocolpopexy. This is a mesh-augmented procedure in which the apex of the vagina is attached to the sacrum by a piece of medical mesh material.
A Cochrane Collaboration (2016) review found that sacral colpopexy was associated with lower risk of complications than vaginal interventions, but it was unclear what route of sacral colpopexy should be preferred. No clear conclusion could be reached regarding uterine preserving surgery versus vaginal hysterectomy for uterine prolapse. The evidence does not support use of transvaginal mesh compared to native tissue repair for apical vaginal prolapse. The use of a transvaginal mesh is associated with side effects including pain, infection, and organ perforation. According to the FDA, serious complications are "not rare". A number of class action lawsuits have been filed and settled against several manufacturers of TVM devices.
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