3 Transvaginal Surgical Mesh Complications Women Should Be Aware of

If you suffer from a pelvic organ prolapse (POP), you will probably know the discomfort of feeling a vaginal bulge, urine leakage, and lack of control over bowel movements.

However, you may take solace in the fact that you are not alone. Nearly 40% of women experience the condition, and the problem aggravates with aging. Fortunately, the symptoms are severe enough to seek care in only 3-8% of these women.

Surgery involving a transvaginal mesh implant is one of the treatment choices for pelvic organ prolapse. This screen-like material is used to reinforce tissue or bone and provide relief to women dealing with pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. While millions of women in the US have undergone the procedure, the complication rate for transvaginal surgical mesh is high.

The FDA reclassified it as a Class III device in 2016 after receiving more than a thousand reports of complications. In 2019, it halted distribution and sales of the product in the US due to safety concerns. If you already have a transvaginal mesh implant, you should be aware of potential complications so that you can seek help if something goes wrong.

In this article, we will list the complications women should know about.

Mesh Erosion and Extrusion

According to a study, mesh erosion currently emerges as the most significant complication of the procedure. The material wears through the vaginal wall, leading to pain, discomfort, and infection. Extrusion is even worse as it entails the material protruding from the vaginal tissue. It can cause bleeding and increased vulnerability to infections.

The problem can be severe enough to require surgical removal. Over 50% of women experiencing erosion are recommended surgical removal. TruLaw notes that such patients can claim compensation for their pain and suffering, considering the procedure they trust ends up doing more harm than good.

According to the latest transvaginal mesh lawsuit update, the state of West Virginia has reached a settlement of $3.9 million with Johnson & Johnson over defective pelvic mesh products. Also, ObTape, a brand of transvaginal mesh, is facing a potential multidistrict litigation (MDL). For patients requiring surgical removal, this brings hope as they can seek compensation and justice.

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Organ Perforation

Organ perforation is an even more serious complication of transvaginal mesh surgery. As the material erodes through internal tissues of the vagina, it can perforate other organs such as the urethra, bladder, bowel, or rectum. Severe complications may surface in the form of pain, infection, impaired organ function, and even long-term organ damage.

Mesh removal is the only solution to this complication. Surgeons may also need to cauterize (burn) ruptured blood vessels to stop bleeding. Additionally, reconstruction of the damaged tissue may be required in many cases. Antibiotics are required if perforation causes infection. The treatment may also need multiple surgeries.

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Mesh Contraction

Another complication you should be aware of is mesh contraction. It occurs when the implant shrinks or tightens over time. Clinical presentation of the condition includes severe vaginal pain aggravated by movement, tenderness over contracted portions on vaginal examination, and dyspareunia in sexually active women.

Contraction often necessitates additional surgeries to revise or remove the mesh. Statistics show that revision surgery alleviates symptoms in 75% of patients suffering from complications. However, 25% still struggle despite the pain and stress of undergoing repeat procedures. You must bear this significant risk in mind if you have gone through mesh surgery.

Warning Signs You Should Watch Out for

The prevalence of post-surgical complications for women with transvaginal mesh implants is considerable. While you may need aggressive treatments like repeat surgeries in such cases, timely action can make a difference. You must watch out for these warning signs and talk to your healthcare provider when you notice them:

  • Ongoing vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Feeling something poking into the vagina
  • Pain in the groin or pelvis
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

You must keep up with scheduled checkups and routine care even if these symptoms are nonexistent. Consider it a proactive approach as your provider can identify problems early and recommend prompt treatment to minimize risks.

In conclusion, surveys and lawsuits have proved that transvaginal mesh is not the best treatment option for pelvic organ prolapse. Moreover, the FDA ban on mesh for prolapse repair has sealed its fate for good.

The good news is that women have several non-surgical options to address the complications of POP. You can try physical therapy to strengthen your pelvic floor. Placing silicone pessaries into the vagina can help hold the organs in place. The best way to decide the ideal treatment is to seek advice from your healthcare provider.