The retropubic tension-free vaginal tape procedure has been the preferred method for primary surgical treatment of stress and stress-dominant mixed urinary incontinence in women for more than 20 years. In this study, we assessed associations between surgeon’s experience with the primary tension-free vaginal tape procedure and both perioperative complications and recurrence rates.
Using a consecutive case-series design, we assessed 596 patients treated with primary retropubic tension-free vaginal tape surgery performed by 18 surgeons from 1998 through 2012, with follow-up through 2015 (maximum follow-up time: 10 years per patient). Data on perioperative complications and recurrence of stress urinary incontinence from medical records was transferred to a case report form. Surgeon’s experience with the tension-free vaginal tape procedure was defined as number of such procedures performed as lead surgeon (1-19 (“beginners”), 20-49, and ≥50 procedures). All analyses were done with a 5% level of statistical significance. We applied the Chi-squared test in the assessment of perioperative complications. The regression analyses of recurrence rate by number of tension-free vaginal tape procedures performed were restricted to the three surgeons who performed ≥50 procedures.
We found a significantly higher rate of bladder perforations (p = 0.03) and a higher rate of urinary retentions among patients whose tension-free vaginal tape procedures were performed by “beginners” (p = 0.06). We observed a significant reduction in recurrence rates with increasing number of tension-free vaginal tape procedures for one surgeon (p = 0.03).
Surgeon’s experience with the tension-free vaginal tape procedure is associated with the risk of bladder perforation and urinary retention, and may be associated with the long-term effectiveness of the procedure.

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