Variations in Stress Incontinence and Prolapse Management by Surgeon Specialty

Published in: The Journal of Urology, v. 178, no. 4, Oct. 2007, p. 1411-1417

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

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PURPOSE: Numerous studies have documented a relationship between provider specialty and outcomes for surgical procedures. In this study the authors sought to determine the effect of surgeon specialty on outcomes of sling surgery for women with stress urinary incontinence. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The authors analyzed the 1999 to 2001 Medicare claims data from a 5% national random sample of Medicare beneficiaries. Women 65 years or older who underwent a sling procedure between July 1, 1999 and December 31, 2000 were identified on the basis of CPT-4 codes and tracked for 12 months. Key complications were identified using CPT-4 and ICD-9 revision codes for relevant procedures and diagnoses. Outcomes were compared between urologists and gynecologists. RESULTS: A total of 1,356 sling procedures were performed. Of them 1,063 (78.4%) were performed by urologists, while 246 (18.1%) were performed by gynecologists. Urologists performed concomitant prolapse repairs in 29.1% of cases, and gynecologists performed prolapse repairs in 55.7% (p <0.0001). In the 12 months following sling surgery, urologists were more likely than gynecologists to perform a repeat incontinence procedure (9.3% vs 4.9%, p = 0.024) and prolapse repair (26.0% vs 12.2%, p <0.0001). The 2 surgical specialties did not differ in postoperative outlet obstruction, urological complications, or nonurological complications. CONCLUSIONS: Early prolapse management by gynecologists corresponded to fewer prolapse repairs in the year following the sling. Our findings suggest that gynecologists are more likely to identify and manage prolapse at the time of the evaluation of urinary incontinence, a strategy that appears to avoid the morbidity and cost of repeat surgery.

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