Pelvic organ prolapse is a common issue that many women experience after childbirth. Traditional surgical repair methods can have high failure rates. Transvaginal mesh was thought to improve outcomes for prolapse surgery.
However, in recent years, increasing numbers of women have reported serious, long-term complications from transvaginal mesh implants. As these concerning issues come to light, it’s important to understand both the potential risks as well as the complicated nature of mesh implant safety and regulation.
This article aims to provide key facts about transvaginal mesh complications that all women considering this treatment should be aware of.
What Is a Transvaginal Mesh?
Transvaginal mesh is a synthetic implant used to provide extra support for repairing weakened or damaged internal female tissues. It is called “transvaginal” because it is implanted through surgery conducted through the vagina. The mesh may also be referred to as tape, sling, ribbon, or hammock.
The implant consists of a net-like substance that contains holes to allow a woman’s own tissues to grow into it. This is intended to make the mesh permanent, though it may not be removable if complications arise later on. Doctors use transvaginal mesh to permanently fix issues like pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence in women.
It functions by reinforcing and supporting structures like the vaginal wall, urethra, or bladder neck. Transvaginal meshes are typically constructed from either a plastic called polypropylene or animal tissue.
When Is Transvaginal Mesh Used?
Transvaginal mesh is typically used to repair two common pelvic floor disorders in women: pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
The bladder, uterus, or rectum slide lower from their normal placements as a result of weakening pelvic floor muscles and tissue, a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse. Aging and childbirth are two of the things that can aggravate this illness.
Urine leaks suddenly as a result of certain actions that raise abdominal pressure, such as laughing, coughing, sneezing, or working out. This condition is known as stress urinary incontinence.
In stress incontinence, the bladder neck is able to move down from its usual position due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and tissues often resulting from pregnancy and childbirth over time.
Complications Associated With Transvaginal Mesh Implants
While a significant portion of women undergoing transvaginal mesh procedures encounter no complications, a notable number may face challenges.
The onset of issues related to transvaginal mesh can occur either immediately after the operation or emerge years later. These complications can vary from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain.
Common difficulties include irregular vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain or swelling, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and bladder and bowel problems such as infection and incontinence. Some women may also feel a stinging or serious stabbing pain in the vagina, which could get worse as they move.
Additionally, abdominal, buttock, or leg pain may be part of the spectrum of complications associated with transvaginal mesh implants.
The transvaginal mesh lawsuit claims financial losses associated with difficulties and injuries inflicted by these medical devices, as well as injuries, pain, and suffering, against the manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products.
While many women have benefited from procedures including mesh, some have encountered injuries and complications, such as mesh erosion, excruciating suffering, infection, bleeding, organ perforation, and issues regarding urination.
Several countries have put limitations or cautions on the use of surgical mesh devices in response to these problems. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made history in April 2019 when it outlawed the sale of transvaginal mesh devices meant to treat pelvic organ prolapse, as reported by TorHoerman Law.
Over a hundred thousand lawsuits have been brought on behalf of women who have been injured by vaginal mesh and pelvic mesh products.
Alternative Options Besides Transvaginal Mesh
Alternative treatment options for transvaginal mesh include:
An implanted silicone device called a pessary is placed into the vagina to support organs that have moved. Additionally, it can provide pressure to the urethra to stop urine leaks.
Depending on their age, medical history, or the severity of their ailment, between 50 and 80 percent of women can effectively use a pessary. It is a good choice for people who want a non-surgical method.
It is also suitable for someone looking for a short- or long-term fix for urine leaks during physical exercise and has the time to take out and wash the pessary as needed.
Pessaries, however, might not be appropriate for people with a wider vaginal opening, a shorter or smaller vagina as a result of surgery, vaginal wounds, a dry vagina, or weak muscles in the pelvic floor.
Pelvic Floor Therapy
Another option for vaginal mesh treatment is pelvic floor therapy. It entails certain exercises designed to bolster the muscles of the pelvic floor. It can be advantageous to work together with a physiotherapist who provides pelvic floor training.
Biofeedback and electrical stimulation are two techniques that have been shown to enhance pelvic floor muscle function and treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
Additional treatments could include medicines, and lifestyle modifications such as keeping a healthy body mass index, minimizing heavy lifting, and treating recurring coughing or constipation, as well as bladder training and absorbent supplies for SUI.
Surgical alternatives include native tissue repair or pubovaginal sling. Here, the person’s tissue is used to treat POP, biological graft repair utilizing human or animal tissue to support a prolapse, and bulking agents are injected into the urethra to treat SUI.
In conclusion, transvaginal mesh was once seen as a promising treatment for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence but has been found to carry significant risks of serious complications for many women.
While it provides benefits for some, alternative options without the risk of long-term harm, like pessaries, pelvic floor therapy, and other surgeries, should be fully explored before considering a permanent surgical mesh implant.
Ongoing legal cases also aim to address the issues faced by those who have suffered problems linked to these devices. Overall, it is crucial for any woman being treated for pelvic floor disorders to make a fully informed decision with her doctor.