Introduction and hypothesis
This manuscript from Chapter 2 of the International Urogynecology Consultation (IUC) on Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) reviews the literature involving the clinical evaluation of a patient with POP and associated bladder and bowel dysfunction.
An international group of 11 clinicians performed a search of the literature using pre-specified search MESH terms in PubMed and Embase databases (January 2000 to August 2020). Publications were eliminated if not relevant to the clinical evaluation of patients or did not include clear definitions of POP. The titles and abstracts were reviewed using the Covidence database to determine whether they met the inclusion criteria. The manuscripts were reviewed for suitability using the Specialist Unit for Review Evidence checklists. The data from full-text manuscripts were extracted and then reviewed.
The search strategy found 11,242 abstracts, of which 220 articles were used to inform this narrative review. The main themes of this manuscript were the clinical examination, and the evaluation of comorbid conditions including the urinary tract (LUTS), gastrointestinal tract (GIT), pain, and sexual function. The physical examination of patients with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) should include a reproducible method of describing and quantifying the degree of POP and only the Pelvic Organ Quantification (POP-Q) system or the Simplified Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification (S-POP) system have enough reproducibility to be recommended. POP examination should be done with an empty bladder and patients can be supine but should be upright if the prolapse cannot be reproduced. No other parameters of the examination aid in describing and quantifying POP. Post-void residual urine volume >100 ml is commonly used to assess for voiding difficulty. Prolapse reduction can be used to predict the possibility of postoperative persistence of voiding difficulty. There is no benefit of urodynamic testing for assessment of detrusor overactivity as it does not change the management. In women with POP and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the cough stress test should be performed with a bladder volume of at least 200 ml and with the prolapse reduced either with a speculum or by a pessary. The urodynamic assessment only changes management when SUI and voiding dysfunction co-exist. Demonstration of preoperative occult SUI has a positive predictive value for de novo SUI of 40% but most useful is its absence, which has a negative predictive value of 91%. The routine addition of radiographic or physiological testing of the GIT currently has no additional value for a physical examination. In subjects with GIT symptoms further radiological but not physiological testing appears to aid in diagnosing enteroceles, sigmoidoceles, and intussusception, but there are no data on how this affects outcomes. There were no articles in the search on the evaluation of the co-morbid conditions of pain or sexual dysfunction in women with POP.
The clinical pelvic examination remains the central tool for evaluation of POP and a system such as the POP-Q or S-POP should be used to describe and quantify. The value of investigation for urinary tract dysfunction was discussed and findings presented. The routine addition of GI radiographic or physiological testing is currently not recommended. There are no data on the role of the routine assessment of pain or sexual function, and this area needs more study. Imaging studies alone cannot replace clinical examination for the assessment of POP.