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Medical Symptoms

Transvaginal mesh (TV mesh) implants are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in women. POP often occurs in women who have had natural childbirths. The muscles that hold your pelvic organs in place can become stretched during childbirth, causing the organs to drop from their normal position.

TV mesh is used to strengthen the vaginal walls to prevent the pelvic organs from slipping out of place. For SUI patients, on the other hand, surgical mesh helps manage urine leakage. The most common surgical mesh types are the transvaginal full-length, tension-free transvaginal tape (TVT), and trans-obturator tape (TOT). Below, you’ll find explanations of each of these types of TV mesh.


Transvaginal Full-Length

The TV full-length is a surgical mesh type used to treat POP. It consists of a sling with a mesh patch attached to it. The device helps keep the pelvic organs from slipping out of position. Based on the severity of the prolapse, each TV full-length is custom fitted for the patient.

While the TV full-length helps support the user’s vaginal muscles, the FDA has warned surgeons and patients about the dangers associated with any transvaginal mesh implant. Mesh erosion and organ perforation are commonly reported complications. Mesh erosion occurs after surgery when the implanted mesh begins to break down. The erosion causes the mesh to break into small pieces that can become embedded in the surrounding tissue, making the mesh extremely difficult to remove.

Further, the mesh fragments often have sharp edges that can cut and puncture organs near the implant. As a result, patients may suffer internal bleeding and severe infections. Mesh erosion and organ perforation are dangerous health problems that need immediate medical attention. Multiple rounds of revision surgery are typically required to remove the mesh fragments and stop any internal bleeding.

Tension-Free Transvaginal Tape (TVT)

Tension-free transvaginal tape (TVT) is another common surgical mesh type. TVT is surgically implanted through the vagina and lower abdomen by pushing a needle through the retropubic space. Located above the bladder and bowel, the retropubic space is a highly-sensitive area that is prone to surgical complications when implanting the TVT. During the procedure, the surgeon must blindly push the needle through the retropubic area in order to implant the mesh in the body. As a result, bladder and bowel injuries are common with tension-free transvaginal tape procedures.

Like other surgical mesh types, TVT has also been linked to mesh erosion and organ perforation. In response to the health complications, some manufacturers of transvaginal mesh implants, like Bard and Johnson & Johnson, have stopped selling TV mesh products. In addition, thousands of injured patients have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers. The patients argue that manufacturers didn’t adequately test their TV mesh products before putting them on the market.

Trans-Obturator Tape (TOT)

Trans-obturator tape (TOT) is a transvaginal mesh implant created by surgeons to eliminate the complications seen in tension-free transvaginal tape (TVT) procedures. The main difference between the two procedures is that the TOT surgery doesn’t require the surgeon to blindly push a needle through the retropubic area. Instead, the trans-obturator tape is threaded through the groin area below the urethra, significantly lowering the risk of bladder injuries. While it is primarily used to treat stress urinary incontinence, TOT can also be used to treat pelvic organ prolapse.

Although the TOT surgical method is safer than the TVT procedure, the same health complications that occur in other surgical mesh types, like mesh erosion and organ perforation, can also occur with trans-obturator tapes. Regardless of the type of TV mesh you’ve received, you should contact your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort related to your implant.