Transobturator and retropubic tape procedures in stress urinary incontinence: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness and complications


Dr P Latthe, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Birmingham Women’s Health Care NHS Trust, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TG, UK. Email


Background  Various types of suburethral tapes inserted via the transobturator route (tension-free vaginal tape obturator route [TVTO] and transobturator tape [TOT]) have been widely adopted for treatment of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) before proper evaluation of their effectiveness and complications.

Objectives  To assess the effectiveness and complications of TOTs as treatment of SUI by means of a systematic review.

Search strategy  MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILIACS (up to September 2006), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2006), MetaRegister of Controlled Trials, The National Library for Health, the National Research Register and Google Scholar were searched using various relevant search terms. The citation lists of review articles and included trials were searched, and contact with the corresponding author of each included trials was attempted.

Selection criteria  Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared the effectiveness of TVTO or TOT with synthetic tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) by retropubic route (Gynecare; Ethicon Inc., NJ, USA) for the treatment of SUI in all languages were included.

Data collection and analysis  Two reviewers extracted data on participants’ characteristics, study quality, population, intervention, cure and adverse effects independently. The data were analysed in the Review Manager 4.2.8 software.

Main results  There were five RCTs that compared TVTO with TVT and six RCTs that compared TOT with TVT. When compared by subjective cure, TVTO and TOT at 2–12 months were no better than TVT (OR 0.85; 95% CI 0.60–1.21). Adverse events such as bladder injuries (OR 0.12; 95% CI 0.05–0.33) and voiding difficulties (OR 0.55; 95% CI 0.31–0.98) were less common, whereas groin/thigh pain (OR 8.28; 95% CI 2.7–25.4), vaginal injuries or erosion of mesh (OR 1.96; 95% CI 0.87–4.39) were more common after tape insertion by the transobturator route.

Author’s conclusions  The evidence for short-term superiority of effectiveness of TOTs is currently limited. Bladder injuries and voiding difficulties are lower, but the risk of vaginal erosions and groin pain is higher with TVTO/TOT. Methodologically sound and sufficiently powered RCTs with long-term follow up are needed, and the results of continuing trials are awaited.