Cystocele, urethrocele, enterocele, and rectocele are particularly likely to occur together. Urethrocele is virtually always accompanied by cystocele (cystourethrocele).
Cystocele and cystourethrocele commonly develop when the pubocervical vesical fascia is weakened. Enterocele usually occurs after a hysterectomy. Weakness in the pubocervical fascia and rectovaginal fascia allows the apex of the vagina, which contains the peritoneum and small bowel, to descend. Rectocele results from disruption of the levator ani muscles.
Risk factors for vaginal wall prolapse are
Chronic straining (eg, due to constipation or heavy lifting)
Severity of vaginal wall prolapse can be graded by the Pelvic Organ Prolapse-Quantification (POP-Q) system:
Stage 0: No prolapse
Stage I: Most distal prolapse is more than 1 cm above the hymen
Stage II: Most distal prolapse is between 1 cm above and 1 cm below the hymen
Stage III: Most distal prolapse is more than 1 cm below hymen but 2 cm shorter than total vaginal length
Stage IV: Complete eversion
The POP-Q system is recommended by professional organizations because it is a reliable and reproducible classification system that is based on predefined anatomic landmarks.
The Baden-Walker system, which is based on level of protrusion, is sometimes used. However, it is an older classification system that is not reproducible:
Grade 0: No prolapse
Grade 1: Halfway to the hymen
Grade 2 : To the hymen
Grade 3 : Halfway past the hymen
Grade 4: Maximal possible
Symptoms and Signs of Vaginal Wall Prolapse
Pelvic or vaginal fullness, pressure, and a sensation of organs falling out are common. Organs may bulge into the vaginal canal or through the vaginal opening (introitus), particularly during straining or coughing. Dyspareunia can occur.
Mild cases may not cause symptoms until women become older.
Stress urinary incontinence Urinary Incontinence in Adults Urinary incontinence is involuntary loss of urine; some experts consider it present only when a patient thinks it is a problem. The disorder is greatly underrecognized and underreported. Many... read more or urinary retention Urinary Retention Urinary retention is incomplete emptying of the bladder or cessation of urination. Urinary retention may be Acute Chronic Causes include impaired bladder contractility, bladder outlet obstruction... read more can accompany pelvic organ prolapse.
Enteroceles may cause lower back pain.
Rectoceles may cause constipation and incomplete defecation; patients may have to manually press the posterior vaginal wall and thus change the angle of the rectum so that they can defecate.
Diagnosis of Vaginal Wall Prolapse
Examination of the anterior or posterior vaginal wall while patients strain
Diagnosis of vaginal wall prolapse is confirmed by examination.
Cystoceles and cystourethroceles are detected by applying a single-bladed speculum against the posterior vaginal wall while patients are in the lithotomy position. Asking patients to strain makes cystoceles or cystourethroceles visible or palpable as soft reducible masses bulging into the anterior vaginal wall.
Enteroceles and rectoceles are detected by retracting the anterior vaginal wall while patients are in the lithotomy position. Asking patients to strain can make enteroceles and rectoceles visible and palpable during rectovaginal examination. Patients are also examined while standing with one knee elevated (eg, on a stool) and straining; sometimes abnormalities are detected only by rectovaginal examination during this maneuver.
Treatment of Vaginal Wall Prolapse
Pelvic floor exercises (eg, Kegel exercises)
Surgical repair of supporting structures if necessary
Treatment of vaginal wall prolapse is individualized, based on a patient's symptoms, and it aims to improve quality of life. Symptomatic treatment may consist of pelvic floor exercises, a pessary, and, if these measures are unsuccessful or if the patient prefers, surgical repair.
Pessaries are devices that are inserted in the vagina to maintain normal anatomy and reduction of the prolapsed structures. Pessaries are typically made of silicone and vary in shape and size; some are inflatable. They may cause vaginal ulceration if they are not correctly sized and routinely cleansed (at least monthly if not more frequently). Pessaries can be fitted by health care practitioners; in some countries, pessaries may be available over the counter.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises (including Kegel exercises) may be recommended. Kegel exercises involve isometric contractions of the pubococcygeus muscle. These muscles are contracted tightly for about 1 or 2 seconds, then relaxed for about 10 seconds. Gradually, contractions are held for about 10 seconds each. The exercise is repeated about 10 times in a row. Doing the exercises several times a day is recommended.
Exercises can be facilitated by
Use of weighted vaginal cones (which help patients focus on contracting the correct muscle)
Electrical stimulation, which causes the muscle to contract
Pelvic floor exercises can lessen bothersome symptoms of prolapse (and stress incontinence) but do not appear to reduce the severity of prolapse.
Surgical repair can help relieve symptoms that are severe or do not resolve with nonsurgical treatment. The surgical approach used depends on the type of prolapse, the clinical situation, and the patient's age and comorbidities. Surgery may include one (or a combination) of the following procedures
Anterior or posterior colporrhaphy (vaginal repair)
Vaginal apex suspension or repair
Colpocleisis (closure of the vagina after removal of the uterus or with the uterus in place [Le Fort procedure])
Perineorrhaphy (surgical shortening and tightening of the perineum) is traditionally done but does not help resolve pelvic organ prolapse.
Surgical repair of the vagina is usually deferred, if possible, until future childbearing is no longer desired because subsequent vaginal delivery may disrupt the repair. After surgery, patients should avoid heavy lifting for at least 6 weeks.
After surgery to repair a cystocele or cystourethrocele, a urethral catheter may be used for < 24 hours.
Urethrocele is virtually always accompanied by cystocele, and cystocele, urethrocele, enterocele, and rectocele are likely to occur together.
Risk factors for vaginal organ prolapse are age, obesity, and vaginal delivery.
To help detect cystoceles or cystourethroceles, apply a single-bladed speculum against the posterior vaginal wall while patients are in the lithotomy position, and ask them to strain.
To help detect enteroceles and rectoceles, retract the anterior vaginal wall while patients are in the lithotomy position, and during rectovaginal examination, ask patients to strain.
Recommend pessaries and/or pelvic floor exercises, but if they are ineffective, consider surgical repair.