Tailoring surgery for obstructed defecation syndrome to the ‘iceberg diagram’: Long-term results

Published:October 05, 2022DOI:



      Patients with obstructed defecation syndrome may present with a wide spectrum of disorders. The iceberg diagram, which focuses on the underlying occult diseases, has been proposed for an accurate diagnosis. The iceberg diagram deals with lesions, which, if neglected, may worsen the prognosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of using the iceberg diagram on the clinical results.


      Patients operated for obstructed defecation syndrome based on the iceberg diagram between 2008 and 2018 were evaluated pre- and postsurgery. All patients underwent psychosomatic assessment, abdominal and perineal examination, proctoscopy, vaginoscopy, transanal ultrasound, and defecography. Postoperative complications were also evaluated.


      Of the 80 operated patients, 73 were females; median age was 47 (range 26–78) years. All had a rectal internal mucosal prolapse and 85% had a rectocele. The most frequent occult diseases were functional (mental distress [46%]) or organic (colpo-cysto-enterocele [44%]). Surgery was tailored according to the iceberg diagram with prolapsectomy and rectocele repair the most commonly used among 8 different procedures. A total of 14% of patients had a postoperative complication. Median follow-up was 72 months. Obstructed defecation syndrome score significantly decreased from 10.5 ± 4.8 (mean + standard deviation) to 3.4 ± 3.6 (P < .01) and 68% of patients reported to be either improved or cured.


      The use of the iceberg diagram in obstructed defecation syndrome patients assists in identifying latent “submerged lesions’ that may negatively impact the functional outcome of surgery. A clinical approach to patients with obstructed defecation syndrome tailored according to the iceberg diagram allows the identification of occult lesions and to achieve good long-term results.
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