Open retropubic colposuspension for urinary incontinence in women

Marie Carmela M. Lapitan, June D Cody, Adrian Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review



Urinary incontinence is a common and potentially debilitating problem. Open retropubic colposuspension is a surgical treatment which involves lifting the tissues near the bladder neck and proximal urethra in the area behind the anterior pubic bones to correct deficient urethral closure.


To assess the effects of open retropubic colposuspension for the treatment of urinary incontinence.

Search strategy

We searched the Cochrane Incontinence Group Specialised Register (searched 30 June 2008) and reference lists of relevant articles. We contacted investigators to locate extra studies.

Selection criteria

Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials in women with symptoms or urodynamic diagnoses of stress or mixed urinary incontinence that included open retropubic colposuspension surgery in at least one trial group.

Data collection and analysis

Studies were evaluated for methodological quality/susceptibility to bias and appropriateness for inclusion and data extracted by two of the reviewers. Trial data were analysed by intervention. Where appropriate, a summary statistic was calculated.

Main results

This review included 46 trials involving a total of 4738 women.

Overall cure rates were 68.9% to 88.0% for open retropubic colposuspension. Two small studies suggest lower failure rates after open retropubic colposuspension compared with conservative treatment. Similarly, one trial suggests lower failure rates after open retropubic colposuspension compared to anticholinergic treatment. Evidence from six trials showed a lower failure rate for subjective cure after open retropubic colposuspension than after anterior colporrhaphy. Such benefit was maintained over time (RR of failure 0.51; 95% CI 0.34 to 0.76 before the first year, RR 0.43; 95% CI 0.32 to 0.57 at one to five years, RR 0.49; 95% CI 0.32 to 0.75 in periods beyond 5 years). In comparison with needle suspensions there was a lower failure rate after colposuspension in the first year after surgery (RR 0.66; 95% CI 0.42 to 1.03), after the first year (RR 0.48; 95% CI 0.33 to 0.71), and beyond five years (RR 0.32; 95% CI 15 to 0.71). Evidence from twelve trials in comparison with suburethral slings found no significant difference in failure rates in all time periods assessed. Patient-reported failure rates in short, medium and long-term follow-up showed no significant difference between open and laparoscopic retropubic colposuspension, but with wide confidence intervals. In two trials failure was less common after Burch (RR 0.38 95% CI 0.18 to 0.76) than after the Marshall Marchetti Krantz procedure at one to five year follow-up. There were few data at any other follow-up time.

In general, the evidence available does not show a higher morbidity or complication rate with open retropubic colposuspension, compared to the other open surgical techniques, although pelvic organ prolapse is more common than after anterior colporrhaphy and sling procedures.

Authors' conclusions

The evidence available indicates that open retropubic colposuspension is an effective treatment modality for stress urinary incontinence especially in the long term. Within the first year of treatment, the overall continence rate is approximately 85 to 90%. After five years, approximately 70% of patients can expect to be dry. Newer minimal access procedures like tension free vaginal tape look promising in comparison with open colposuspension but their long-term performance is not known and closer monitoring of its adverse event profile must be done. Laparoscopic colposuspension should allow speedier recovery but its relative safety and effectiveness is not known yet.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD002912
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2009


  • *Suburethral Slings
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures [*methods]
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Suture Techniques
  • Urinary Incontinence [*surgery]
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress [surgery]
  • Urologic Surgical Procedures [*methods]
  • Vagina [surgery]
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Free Vaginal Tape
  • Genuine Stress-Incontinence
  • Randomized controlled-trials
  • Open Burch Colposuspension
  • Bladder Neck Suspension
  • 5-Year Follow-Up
  • Marchetti-Krantz Urethropexy
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse
  • Leak Point Pressure
  • Laparoscopic Colposuspension


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