MomandBabyWomen with a pelvic floor disorder (PFD) often rely on multiple specialists to treat their symptoms without the benefit of a cohesive, comprehensive treatment plan. Now The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is offering a new approach through its Female Pelvic Health Center. The center brings together urogynecologists, obstetrician-gynecologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons and physical therapists, who provide a streamlined process for diagnosis and treatment.

The Female Pelvic Floor Center is the first of its kind in the region, says Andrew Hundley, MD, who leads the urogynecology team. “Our providers address all aspects of pelvic health in an efficient, well-coordinated way,” says Hundley, a fellowship-trained urogynecologist who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. “That’s especially important for women with complex issues who need care across multiple specialties.”

Most office visits, preoperative tests and outpatient procedures take place at Ohio State Outpatient Care New Albany. The team treats women with:

  • Incontinence, including urinary urgency, urinary stress and fecal incontinence
  • Overactive bladder
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Pregnancy and postpartum healing issues
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Vesicovaginal and rectovaginal fistula
  • Mesh complications
  • Outlet constipation
  • Painful bladder syndrome

Before the first appointment, a scheduler talks to the patient on the phone to determine which physician is best suited to assess her initial concerns. During the evaluation, the physician takes a detailed history to uncover any related issues.

“When a patient presents to me with symptoms of urinary incontinence, for example, there’s a good chance she’s also having problems such as voiding dysfunction, fecal incontinence, gastrointestinal complaints or vaginal prolapse,” Hundley says. “It’s possible she has never shared these concerns with a provider, thinking they aren’t related or treatable. If needed, I can refer her to one or more of my colleagues as part of the evaluation.”

An expedited scheduling process at the Female Pelvic Health Center means patients can see additional specialists and undergo testing within days. In the traditional, more “siloed” approach to care, patients referred to other physicians make these appointments themselves, a process that can take several weeks and lead to inefficiencies in care.

Once the patient’s evaluation is complete, the Female Pelvic Health Center’s physicians establish a unified treatment plan. This can happen informally or, if a case is more complex, at the center’s weekly multidisciplinary conference. The center offers the full spectrum of treatment options, including medical management, physical therapy, Botox injections, nerve stimulation therapy, laser therapy, fitted vaginal devices and surgical procedures, including reconstructive surgery.

In addition to providing better coordinated, comprehensive care for women with PFDs, Hundley hopes the center helps raise awareness.

“People don’t discuss PFDs as openly as they would something like hypertension or diabetes,” he says. “Many women suffer because they are too embarrassed to tell their doctor or are unaware treatment is available. For instance, some believe that urinary leaking is normal after having kids. But there’s a difference between what is common versus normal. The center will help us get the word out: you don’t have to live with that.”

As patient volume continues to grow, Hundley anticipates that the center will become a hub for PFD clinical research. He also expects the center to provide invaluable training opportunities for urogynecology, colorectal surgery and urology fellows from the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

“When specialists work in silos, they miss opportunities to learn from each other and improve their knowledge and skills,” he says. “Our center brings everyone together to benefit patients and help them experience the best quality of life possible.”

To learn more or refer a patient, call the Female Pelvic Health Center at 614-293-4643.

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