What is a transvaginal mesh? What kind of conditions is it used to treat?
A transvaginal mesh is a synthetic sling-like mesh which is used to strengthen the muscles of the pelvis. It is most commonly for women who experience weakening of the pelvic muscles due to childbirth and aging. As a result of the weakening, organs such as the bladder and uterus are not supported well enough and begin to descend and apply pressure on the vaginal wall. This causes severe pain and discomfort in women, and can lead to conditions such as Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) or Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).
Transvaginal meshes were developed in the 1990s as a treatment option for the above conditions. They immediately appealed to women and surgeons alike, because the mesh could be inserted non-surgically through the vagina (hence the ‘transvaginal’) avoiding the need for large incisions. Over the next two decades, hundreds of thousands of women underwent the procedure. In the year 2010 alone, 300,000 women opted for a transvaginal mesh revision surgery.
What are transvaginal mesh complications?
Though the treatment option was effective initially, the long-term proved otherwise, and women started experiencing multiple complications which were attributed to the insertion of the mesh. These included but were not limited to:
. excessive, ongoing vaginal discharge and drainage
.vaginal scarring and shortening
. skin breakage
.contraction of the mesh sling
. protrusion of the device
.erosion of vaginal epithelium
. shrinkage of the vagina
Between 2005 and 2008, the FDA received a number of complaints regarding transvaginal mesh complications. In response, the FDA issued a public health notice stating that complications arising from the use of a transvaginal mesh were a rare occurrence. However, after an extended investigation, the FDA issued another public health notice in 2011 in which they recanted their earlier statement and informed the public that transvaginal mesh complications were not rare and can occur frequently. Additionally, the FDA ordered manufacturers to conduct studies to evaluate the safety of their products as well.
As a result of these announcements, several mesh manufacturers became the target of lawsuits filed by women who had experienced physical and emotional stress due to the surgery. It is speculated that the treatment option was fast-tracked for public use without proper evaluation methods, because initial results showed it to be highly effective.
Multiple ongoing investigations are currently looking for individuals who may have experienced transvaginal mesh complications to provide evidence. You can also be compensated for the damages you have experienced. Reporting your case to such an investigation or the FDA directly is highly recommended. Efforts are also being made to explore safer alternative therapies which can be effective in treating the conditions experienced by women.
Though it is accepted that complications due to a transvaginal mesh occur in higher frequency, working closely with a doctor and following strict guidelines can allow the treatment to work. There is still a chance of health problems arising, but it can be minimized