What is a sacrocolpopexy?

A sacrocolpopexy is a surgical procedure used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that is caused by a weakening of the normal support of the pelvic floor, and is similar to a hernia in the vagina.

The organs of the pelvis—the area of the body between the hip bones—include the vagina, uterus, cervix, bladder, urethra (the tube through which urine passes), intestines and rectum. These organs are held in place by a group of muscles and other support tissue. When this support system becomes stretched, weakened, or torn, it allows pelvic organs to slip out of their normal places or sag down (prolapse).

normal female pelvic organs

There are different types of prolapse, depending on the organ or organs involved. These include:

  • Uterine prolapse: The uterus and cervix drop down the vaginal canal, sometimes so far that they go past the vaginal opening.
  • Vaginal vault prolapse: The top of the vagina (known as the “vaginal vault”) drops down the vaginal canal. This occurs in women who have previously had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
  • Cystocele: The bladder bulges into the vagina.
  • Rectocele: The rectum bulges into the vagina.
  • Enterocele: The small intestine bulges against the vaginal wall. An enterocele and vaginal vault prolapse can occur together.

What causes pelvic organ prolapse?

The most common causes of pelvic organ prolapse are the following:

  • Childbirth: Vaginal delivery increases the risk of prolapse more than a cesarean section (when the baby is delivered through a surgical opening in the wall of the abdomen).
  • Surgery, such as a hysterectomy
  • Aging
  • Extreme physical activity or lifting of heavy objects
  • Any condition that is associated with increased abdominal pressure, such as being overweight, frequently straining to have bowel movements, or having a chronic cough
  • Genetic (hereditary) factors: One person’s pelvic support system may be naturally weaker than another’s.

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