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Treatment Options for Failed Transvaginal Mesh

The FDA cleared surgical mesh for use in transvaginal surgeries in the 1990s. Since then, tens of thousands of women have had transvaginal mesh implanted in their bodies to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) or pelvic organ prolapse (POP). The mesh provides support for organs like the bladder and rectum by strengthening weakened pelvic muscles. Unfortunately, for many women, transvaginal mesh has only led to further complications and surgeries. Below, you’ll find information on the problems associated with transvaginal mesh and the available treatment options.

What’s the Trouble with Transvaginal Mesh?

Surgical mesh is a small flexible screen often made of various plastic materials. It was designed to remain stable and permanently hold its shape. However, when placed transvaginally, mesh failure is not rare. Oftentimes, the mesh erodes inside the body, leaving behind sharp mesh fragments. This process is called “mesh erosion.” The mesh fragments can then move into the vaginal canal or puncture surrounding organs and blood vessels – a complication known as “mesh perforation.” Internal bleeding and infection often occur as a result. Consequently, many women report unresolved pain, sexual difficulties, and worsened SUI symptoms.

Available Treatment Options

After mesh failure is confirmed, the least invasive treatment is usually attempted first. The treatment options can vary greatly depending on the location and severity of the damage:

Treatment for Mesh Erosion:

  • Estrogen cream application to promote healing and blood flow
  • Re-sewing or replacing stitches
  • Trimming exposed vaginal mesh and re-sewing remaining mesh
  • Surgical or laser removal of mesh from vagina or surrounding organs
  • Removal of scar tissue if necessary
  • Vaginal packing with absorbent materials to minimize bleeding
  • Antibiotic therapy for current or potential infection

Treatment for Mesh Perforation:

  • Partial or complete removal of the mesh from any damaged organs
  • Surgical repair of the damaged bladder, urethra or bowel
  • Removal of scar tissue as needed
  • Catheterization, which may be long-term
  • Transfusion for severe or prolonged blood loss
  • Drainage of pus or of other abnormal fluids
  • Antibiotic therapy for current or potential infection

Transvaginal mesh removal surgery is a delicate and tedious procedure. Several attempts may be necessary to completely remove the mesh, as tissue and nerves tend to grow in and through it. After the eroded mesh is completely removed, another type of mesh may be implanted in its place. Additional surgeries can bring a number of other associated risks, including hemorrhage, pulmonary embolism (deadly blood clots that travel to the lung), pneumonia, and infection. Hospitalization may be required, and complete recovery can take several weeks.

Next Steps

Placement of mesh through the vagina is now considered unsafe by many doctors. Unfortunately, inadequate human testing was conducted on transvaginal mesh prior to it being placed on the market. Add to this scenario the many brands of mesh that have been taken off the market for defects – including mesh made by Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific – and it’s no wonder there are so many women who are worried about TV mesh. While there are many treatment options, they aren’t cheap. As a result, patients who’ve been injured by defective mesh may want to consult with an attorney to learn more about their legal options.