Systematic review of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of tension-free vaginal tape for treatment of urinary stress incontinence

D J Cody, L Wyness, S Wallace, C M A Glazener, M Kilonzo, S C Stearns, K McCormack, L D Vale, A Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


To evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) in comparison with the standard surgical interventions currently used.
Data sources
Literature searches were carried out on electronic databases and websites for data covering the period 1966--2002. Other sources included references lists of relevant articles; selected experts in the field; abstracts of a limited number of conference proceedings titles; and the Internet.
Review methods
A systematic review of studies including comparisons of TVT with any of the comparators was conducted. Alternative treatments considered were abdominal retropubic colposuspension (including both open and laparoscopic colposuspension), traditional suburethral sling procedures and injectable agents (periurethral bulking agents). The identified studies were critically appraised and their results summarised. A Markov model comparing TVT with the comparators was developed using the results of the review of effectiveness and data on resource use and costs from previously conducted studies. The Markov model was used to estimate costs and quality-adjusted life-years for up to 10 years following surgery and it incorporated a probabilistic analysis and also sensitivity analysis around key assumptions of the model.
Based on limited data from direct comparisons with TVT and from systematic reviews, laparoscopic colposuspension and traditional slings have broadly similar cure rates to TVT and open colposuspension, whereas injectable agents appear to have lower cure rates. TVT is less invasive than colposuspension and traditional sling procedures, and is also usually performed under regional or local anaesthesia. The principal operative complication is bladder perforation. There are currently no randomised controlled trial (RCT) data beyond 2 years post-surgery, and long-term effects are therefore currently not known reliably. TVT was more likely to be considered cost-effective compared with the other surgical procedures. Increasing the absolute probability of cure following TVT reduced the likelihood that TVT would be considered cost-effective.
The long-term performance of TVT in terms of both continence and unanticipated adverse effects is not known reliably at the moment. Despite relatively few robust comparative data, it appears that in the short to medium term TVT's effectiveness approaches that of alternative procedures currently available, and is of lower cost. As TVT is a less invasive procedure, it is possible that some women who would currently be managed non-surgically will be considered eligible for TVT. Increased adoption of TVT will require additional surgeons proficient in the technique. It is likely that some of the higher rates of complications, e.g. bladder perforation, reported for TVT are associated with a 'learning curve'. Appropriate training will therefore be needed for surgeons new to the operation, in respect of both the technical aspects of the procedure and the choice of women suitable for the operation. Further research suggestions include unbiased assessments of longer term performance from follow-up of controlled trials or population-based registries; more data from methodologically sound RCTs using standard outcome measures; a surveillance system to detect longer term complications, if any, associated with the use of tape; and rigorous evaluation before extending the use of TVT to women who are currently managed non-surgically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-202
Number of pages202
JournalHealth Technology Assessment
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


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