The aim of the study was to evaluate patient responses on a survey of knowledge, perceptions, concerns, and fears about complications related to pelvic reconstructive surgery (PRS). This is the first step to create a simplified, patient-centered Pelvic Floor Complication Scale that evaluates complications from both the patient and surgeon perspective.
Subjects for this prospective study included women older than 18 years planning surgery within 12 weeks or who had undergone PRS more than 6 months ago. Patients were asked open-ended questions about postoperative complications as well as to rank the severity of potential PRS complications (as mild, moderate, severe). Using thematic analysis, responses were coded and analyzed using Dedoose (Version 8.0.35).
Thirty-three women (16 preop, 17 postop) participated in telephone interviews (n = 26) and focus groups (n = 7). There were no differences in age, race, education, marital status, and previous surgery. Specific complications such as a single urinary tract infection, short-term constipation (<2 weeks), persistent constipation (present preop), bladder injury not requiring repair or catheterization, vascular injury without sequelae, and extra office visits were considered minor. New recurrent urinary tract infections, new persistent constipation, worsening postop constipation (present preop), blood transfusion, readmission, and reoperation were considered severe complications.
The most common themes included the following: fears of surgical failure, anesthesia, mesh erosion, discharge with a catheter, and pain. Patients were overall very trusting of their female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery surgeons and potential risks did not impact surgical decisions.
Our research findings provide significant insight into patient perceptions of complications related to PRS that will aid in future development of a patient-centered Pelvic Floor Complication Scale.