Complications of Sling Surgery Among Female Medicare Beneficiaries

Published in: Obstetrics and Gynecology, v. 109, no. 1, Mar. 2007, p. 707-714

by Jennifer T. Anger, Mark Litwin, Qin Wang, Chris L. Pashos, Larissa V. Rodriguez

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OBJECTIVE: To analyze Medicare claims data to determine short-term complications after sling surgery among female beneficiaries aged 65 years and over. METHODS: The authors analyzed the 1999-2001 Medicare Public Use Files provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on a 5% national random sample of beneficiaries. Women undergoing sling procedures between January 1, 1999, and July 31, 2000, (the index period) were identified by Physicians Current Procedural Terminology Coding System (4th edition) and tracked for 12 months. Main outcome measures were complications as identified by International Classification of Diseases (9th revision) (ICD-9) diagnosis codes and Current Procedural Terminology procedure codes in the first postoperative year. RESULTS: A total of 1,356 sling procedures were performed during the index period. In the 3 months after the procedure, 12.5% of women developed surgical or urologic complications, and 33.6% were diagnosed with urinary tract infections. Within 1 year of the procedure, 6.9% of subjects had a new diagnosis of outlet obstruction, and 8.0% underwent treatments to manage outlet obstruction. There was a high incidence of new diagnoses of urge incontinence (15.2%) and treatment of pelvic prolapse (23.2%). Both cystoscopy and urodynamic testing, which may serve as indicators of possible complications, were performed frequently during the first year after surgery (32.4% and 30.5%, respectively). Patient race, age, and comorbidity each had a significant influence on outcomes. CONCLUSION: Complication rates within 1 year after sling surgery among Medicare beneficiaries were found to be higher than those reported in the clinical literature. The high rates of postoperative urinary tract infections, prolapse, and outlet obstruction suggest the need for quality improvement measures in the management of women with incontinence and pelvic prolapse.

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