Effect of patient selection on estimate of reproductive success after surgery for rectovaginal endometriosis: Literature review

Paolo Vercellini, Giussy Barbara, Laura Buggio, Maria Pina Frattaruolo, Edgardo Somigliana, Luigi Fedele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The effect of rectovaginal endometriosis on fertility is unclear. Several authors foster radical surgery, including colorectal resection, as a fertility-enhancing procedure. However, interpretation of data is difficult, as the baseline fertility status is often undefined and it is not always possible to discriminate between spontaneous conceptions and those resulting from IVF. A systematic literature review was performed with the aim of defining the pregnancy rate specifically in patients who were infertile before surgery and who sought spontaneous pregnancy. A PubMed search was conducted to identify English language studies published between 2005 and 2011 evaluating reproductive performance after surgery for rectovaginal and rectosigmoid endometriosis. According to the results of the 11 selected studies, the mean post-operative conception rate in all women seeking pregnancy independently of preoperative fertility status and IVF performance was 39% (95% CI 35-43%; 223/571), but dropped to 24% (95% CI 20-28%; 123/510) in infertile patients who sought spontaneous conception (odds ratio 0.50, 95% CI 0.38-0.65%). Patients' selection significantly influences the estimate of the effect of rectovaginal endometriosis excision on infertility. This should be carefully taken into consideration at preoperative counselling. Rectovaginal endometriosis usually is associated with pain symptoms, but the effect of this disease form on fertility is uncertain, as burial of foci beneath rectouterine adhesions with exclusion of the deepest part of the pelvis may limit interference with fertilization processes. Several authors foster radical surgery, including colorectal resection, as a fertility-enhancing procedure. However, interpretation of data is difficult, as the baseline fertility status is often undefined and it is not always possible to discriminate between spontaneous conceptions and those resulting from IVF. A systematic literature review was performed with the aim of defining the pregnancy rate specifically in patients who were infertile before surgery and who sought pregnancy spontaneously. A PubMed search was conducted to identify English language studies published between 2005 and 2011 evaluating reproductive performance after surgery for rectovaginal and rectosigmoid endometriosis. According to the results of the 11 selected studies, the mean post-operative conception rate in all women seeking pregnancy independently of preoperative fertility status and IVF performance was 39% (223/571), but dropped to 24% (123/510) in infertile patients who sought conception spontaneously. The 15% difference is statistically significant. Infertile patients with rectovaginal endometriosis considering surgery, should be carefully informed of the real probability of post-operative conception avoiding generic overestimations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • bowel endometriosis
  • deeply infiltrating endometriosis
  • infertility
  • rectovaginal endometriosis
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology

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