Surgical Mesh Problems

Defective Transvaginal Surgical Mesh and Vaginal Mesh Erosion Problems

Surgical mesh is a type of polymeric screen that is implanted through surgery, to support tissue or bones that have become weak. Since the 1950s, this type of mesh was used for hernia treatment. Approximately 20 years later, gynecologists started using surgical mesh to treat vaginal tissues that needed reinforcing and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). It was only in the 1990s that doctors started choosing vaginal surgical mesh or transvaginal mesh to treat the problem of stress urinary incontinence (SUI).  While the product has been effective there have arisen a number of surgical mesh problems arising from the use of defective vaginal mesh resulting in vaginal mesh erosion and other bladder mesh surgical complications.

To start out with, surgical mesh products were not officially approved and available. Surgeons typically cut the mesh (metallic or polymeric) themselves to perform procedures. As manufacturers began identifying the need for surgical mesh, it was developed to meet medical standards and growing demand. There are different kinds of surgical mesh in use today:

•    Surgical mesh made from animal tissues
•    Synthetic surgical mesh of the absorbable kind
•    Polyester or polypropylene surgical mesh that is non-absorbable – this is the most common type of vaginal mesh in use for female stress incontinence and other surgeries.

Recently, a lot of attention has been focused on the post-surgical complications that are arising from the use of surgical mesh. The problems appear to be centered round surgical mesh used for pelvic problem surgeries when it was designed for abdominal use. Testing of the suitability and safety of surgical mesh prior to receiving FDA approval is essential in the medical field.

The FDA has put out a statement to admit its error in stating publicly that mesh surgery complications are rare. There are thousands of cases of surgical mesh problems that have come to light. These cases revolve round SUI and POP surgeries performed using surgical mesh. It is estimated that approximately half a million or more women undergo surgery where bladder mesh is used in the process.

By FDA estimation, the spike in surgical vaginal mesh erosion problems occurs in approximately 10 percent of the women that undergo surgery within a year of said surgery. The original surgery is then followed by several other surgeries to remove the mesh. Problems that arise include vaginal mesh erosion referred to as protrusion or extrusion; infection, pain, organ perforation, bleeding, vaginal scarring, urinary problems, recurrent prolapse, neuro-muscular problems, emotional problems and dyspareunia (sexual intercourse problems). Almost all of the problems require further medical intervention and treatment; sometimes hospitalization and surgical treatment, which sadly does not always resolve the problem.

Approximately 80 percent or more of the stress incontinence surgeries are treated by inserting the transvaginal mesh through vaginal incision. The mesh in the form of a bladder sling, serves the purpose of elevating and supporting the bladder in bladder suspension surgery. Commonly experienced problems include pain, bladder obstruction and mesh exposure. The FDA is reviewing the use of vaginal mesh patch in surgeries and the surgical mesh problems that have arisen. The organization is also reviewing data on the use of mesh specifically in stress incontinence surgeries. One example of surgical mesh problems is Mersiline, an old brand of synthetic mesh. The mesh was formed into a sling and used in stress incontinence surgeries. Studies show that the vaginal mesh erosion occurs approximately in 8% of all cases, which requires further surgery to remove the defective mesh.

One of the common treatments for SUI surgical mesh erosion problems is to remove the surgical vaginal mesh by performing another surgery and then sewing up the damaged vaginal tissues.   A number of vaginal mesh lawsuits such as the infamous kugel mesh lawsuit are now working their way through the courts in class action suits.