In a randomised trial comparing transobturator tape (TOT) to retropubic tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) for women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI), vaginal examination at 12 months showed that tapes were palpable for 80.0 % of the TOT group versus 26.7 % of the TVT group. We hypothesized that this difference would lead to more women in the TOT group experiencing vaginal mesh erosion or other serious adverse events compared to women in the TVT group 5 years after surgery.
All participants were invited to join the follow-up study after being randomised to receive TOT or TVT for SUI. Consenting women had a vaginal examination, a pad test for urinary incontinence (UI) and completed Health-related Quality of Life Questionnaires (HRQOL). Women unable to attend the clinic completed questionnaires only. The primary composite outcome incorporated mesh exposure, urinary retention, repeat incontinence surgery and moderate to severe pelvic pain. Assuming 80 % follow-up, our study would have 67 % power to detect a difference in primary outcome (two-sided 5 % level of significance). Comparisons between groups used chi-square tests and t tests.
One hundred and seventy-six (88.4 %) women participated in the 5-year follow-up (83 TOT, 93 TVT). The primary composite outcome occurred in 21.8 % of the TOT and 27.6 % of the TVT groups [difference =-5.8 %, 95 % confidence interval (CI) -18.9 % to 7.3 %, p value 0.39)] Vaginal examination found more women with palpable tapes in the TOT versus the TVT group (48.5 % versus 22.4 %, p value 0.001). There were no other significant differences between groups.
Serious adverse events and tape effectiveness did not differ between groups at 5 years. Palpable tape remains a concern for women who receive TOT for treating SUI.