Complex rectovaginal fistulas after pelvic organ prolapse repair with synthetic mesh: A multidisciplinary approach to evaluation and management

Judy M. Choi, Vian Nguyen, Rose Khavari, Keith O. Reeves, Michael J. Snyder, Sophie G. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: The use of synthetic mesh for transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repair is associated with the rare complication of mesh erosion into hollow viscera. This study presents a single-institution series of complex rectovaginal fistulas (RVFs) after synthetic mesh-augmented POP repair, as well as strategies for identification and management. Methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained for this retrospective study. Data were collected and analyzed on all female patients undergoing RVF repair from 2000 to 2011 at our institution. Results: Thirty-seven patients underwent RVF repair at our multidisciplinary center for restorative pelvic medicine. Of these, 10 (27.0%) were associated with POP repairs using mesh. The POP repairs resulting in RVF were transvaginal repair with mesh (n = 8), laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy with concomitant traditional posterior repair (n = 1), and robotic-assisted laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy (n = 1). Time to presentation was an average of 7.1 months after POP repair. Patients underwent a mean of 4.4 surgeries for definitive RVF repair, with 40% of patients requiring a bowel diversion (3 temporary ileostomies and 1 long-term colostomy). Mean follow-up time after last surgery was 9.2 months. On follow-up, 1 patient has a persistent fistula with vaginal mesh extrusion. One patient has persistent pelvic pain. Conclusions: This series highlights the significant impact of synthetic mesh complications in the posterior compartment. These complications should be cautionary for synthetic graft use by those with limited experience, particularly when an alternate choice of traditional repair is available. When symptoms of RVF are present, collaboration with a colon and rectal specialist should be initiated as soon as possible for evaluation and definitive repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-371
Number of pages6
JournalFemale Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012


  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Posterior repair
  • Rectocele
  • Rectovaginal fistula
  • Transvaginal mesh

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Surgery
  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Complex rectovaginal fistulas after pelvic organ prolapse repair with synthetic mesh: A multidisciplinary approach to evaluation and management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this