Understanding The Dangers Of Transvaginal Mesh

Trans-vaginal mesh is an implant of a mesh-like material that is implanted through the vagina. This mesh was originally developed to treat abdominal hernias. However, the mesh was found to be useful for women who were suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Both of these conditions can occur after a hysterectomy, childbirth, or menopause due to weakened pelvic muscles. The prolapse occurs when the main organs in the pelvis – the uterus, bladder, and rectum – actually drop down into the vagina.

Mesh repair became more popular, and kits were developed with prepackaged mesh, special tools, and instructions to help doctors with the implantation. By the year 2010, more than 75,000 patients received a trans-vaginal mesh implant. However, of those patients, more than 10% experienced a failed surgery.

There were incidences where the surgery did not solve the problem. The biggest problem women faced, however, was trans-vaginal mesh erosion. This occurs when there is an erosion of the mesh or it passes through the vaginal wall. There is a great deal of pain when this happens, not to mention the bleeding, infection, and nerve damage. Once the mesh erodes through the wall of the vagina, other organs are affected and damaged as well. Other complications that can occur include recurrence of prolapse or incontinence, neuro-muscular problems, vaginal scarring and shrinkage, painful sexual intercourse, and emotional problems.

Many women have opted to have the mesh removed. However, severe complications often occur. When the mesh is implanted, it is never intended to be removed. Blood vessels and tissues grow around the mesh, forcing doctors to remove the mesh in pieces, each removal requiring a surgical procedure.

In September of 2011, the FDA organized a panel to look into the implants. They found evidence to believe that the implants caused serious problems and they did not significantly improve the POP. However, the committee did not remove the device from the market, but instead called for more testing. The FDA finally ruled that manufacturers must conduct a three-year study on their mesh products.