Transition to surgery after pessary among female Medicare beneficiaries with pelvic organ prolapse

Melanie R.L. Meister, Oyomoare L. Osazuwa-Peters, Jerry L. Lowder, Victoria L. Handa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends offering a vaginal pessary to women seeking treatment of pelvic organ prolapse. However, single-institution series have suggested that a sizable proportion of women fitted with a pessary will transition to surgery within the first year. Objective: This study aimed to estimate the proportion of female US Medicare beneficiaries with pelvic organ prolapse who undergo surgery after pessary fitting, to describe the median time to surgery from pessary fitting, and to identify factors associated with the transition from pessary to surgery. Study Design: The Medicare 5% Limited Data Set was queried from 2011 to 2016 for women aged ≥65 years with a diagnosis of prolapse who underwent pessary fitting. Cases with at least 3 years of follow-up in the Medicare Data Set were followed longitudinally for the primary outcome of surgery for prolapse. The cumulative incidence of prolapse surgery following index pessary fitting was calculated. Characteristics of women who underwent surgery and those who did not were compared using time-varying Cox regression analysis. Results: Among 2032 women fitted with a pessary, 608 underwent surgery within 7 years. The median time to surgery was 496 days (interquartile range, 187–1089 days). The cumulative incidence of prolapse surgery was 12.2% at 1 year and 30.9% at 7 years. After adjusting for covariates, factors significantly associated with the transition to surgery included previous prolapse surgery (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.50; 1.09–2.07) and a diagnosis of urinary incontinence at the time of pessary fitting (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.20; 0.62–0.99). Factors associated with a lower hazard of surgery included age (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.96 per year; 95% confidence interval, 0.95–0.97), dual Medicare/Medicaid eligibility (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.56–1.00), and pessary fitting by a nongynecologist (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.62–0.99). Conclusion: In this population of Medicare beneficiaries, within 7 years of pessary fitting, almost one-third of women aged >65 years underwent surgery for prolapse. These results add to our current understanding of the demographics of pessary use in an older population and may aid in counseling older patients presenting for treatment of symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559.e1-559.e9
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Medicare
  • pelvic organ prolapse
  • pessary
  • prolapse surgery


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