Stress urinary incontinence in the mesh complication era: current Australian trends

Rebecca Mathieson, Rebecca Kippen, Todd Manning, Janelle Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine available data relating to the surgical management of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in Australia before, during and after a well-publicized Senate Inquiry into transvaginal mesh use and to consider outcomes in the context of global guideline changes. Patients and Methods: The annual number of surgical procedures for the management of SUI by procedure type and age group for the years 2008/2009–2017/2018 was obtained from the Australian Government Department of Human Services database using Medicare Benefits Schedule item numbers. The data extracted were limited to women aged 25 years and older. These data were used to calculate age-specific and age-standardized rates, so as to accurately analyse trends in the usage of different procedures. Hospital Episode Statistics for mid-urethral sling (MUS) insertions were obtained for England’s National Health Service from the Health and Social Care Information Centre for the years 2008/2009–2016/2017. These data were also used to calculate annual age-standardized rates for comparison purposes. Results: Rates declined for most SUI procedures over time (MUS, colposuspension, fascial slings) except for urethral bulking agents. The absolute number of MUSs implanted in 2008/2009 was 5729, which decreased to 3127 in the 2017/2018 financial year. Over the decade, the annual rate for MUS implantation per 100 000 population halved from 78 to 36. Over this same period, the rate of usage of bulking agents doubled, although represented a low volume of procedures (overall numbers increased from 304 to 698, representing an increase from four to eight procedures per 100 000 population). The age-specific peak rate for MUS and Burch colposuspension changed over the decade from 55–64 years to 65–74 years, suggesting that women are deferring surgical treatment until later in life. Over the last decade, the total number of surgical procedures performed in Australia to treat SUI has decreased markedly from 6812 to 4279. This represents a decrease in the annual rate per 100 000 population from 93 to 49. Conclusions: There are clear changes evident for SUI management in the past decade in Australia, including an overall decline in operative numbers, which correlate with international advisory notifications and local investigations. The results of the Australian Senate inquiry, including removal of single-incision mini-slings, greater availability of patient resources, and greater regulation of SUI procedures, will probably have ongoing effects. Surgeons need to ensure that sufficient training and patient education continue in order to maintain appropriate access to treatment of SUI in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalBJU International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • #FPMRS
  • #Incontinence
  • Australia
  • mesh
  • stress urinary incontinence
  • surgery
  • women

Cite this