Laparoscopic Surgery for Severe Rectovaginal Endometriosis Compromising the Bowel: A Prospective Cohort Study

J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2016 May-Jun;23(4):526-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2015.12.006. Epub 2015 Dec 24.


Study objective: Endometriosis can affect 10% of women at reproductive age. Of those, 5.3% to 12% will have endometriosis affecting the bowel. Although outcomes after surgery for severe endometriosis affecting the bowel have previously been studied and have shown improvement in generic quality of life indices and sexual function, few studies have evaluated bowel function or symptoms specific to endometriosis. Our aim was to determine the quality of life after radical excision of rectovagina endometriosis compromising the bowel.

Design: Single-center prospective cohort study (Canadian Task Force classification II-2).

Setting: Specialist referral center for the management of advanced endometriosis.

Patients: Women with severe rectovaginal endometriosis compromising the bowel.

Interventions: Comparison of preoperative data with a 2-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up was made for consecutive patients who underwent surgery for endometriosis with bowel involvement. The main outcome measures were quality of life using the Endometriosis Health Profile 30 and EuroQol-5 dimension questionnaires. Bowel symptoms were measured using the Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index. Dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, dyschezia, and chronic pain were measured using a visual analogue scale. To compare preoperative and postoperative scores, a Freidman test was performed followed by a preoperative and 12-month postoperative Wilcoxon signed-rank test. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare the results between those who had pelvic clearance and those who did not.

Measurements and main results: In total, 137 patients had surgery, of which 100 completed follow-up to 12 months. The serious perioperative and postoperative complication rate was 7.3%. The results show significant improvement in almost all variables measured (p < .01). At 12 months patients who had a pelvic clearance (hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) had significantly less pain with better bowel function. Additionally, they had higher quality of life scores and greater satisfaction with their treatment. There was no significant difference between any postoperative variables tested regardless of the type of bowel surgery.

Conclusion: Severe rectovaginal endometriosis compromising the bowel can be treated surgically with experienced combined gynecologic and colorectal input with a low serious complication rate. Surgery by an experienced multidisciplinary team results in significant improvement in pain, sexual function, and quality of life up to 1 year postoperatively. Pelvic clearance improves outcome and patients should be counseled accordingly. There is no difference in outcome between the types of bowel surgery undertaken as long as all visible/palpable endometriosis is removed.

Keywords: Bowel endometriosis; Endometriosis surgery; Quality of life; Rectovaginal septum.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Constipation / etiology
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Dysmenorrhea / etiology
  • Dyspareunia / etiology
  • Endometriosis / complications
  • Endometriosis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Rectal Diseases / etiology
  • Rectal Diseases / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome