Since the 1950’s there has been a tremendous usage of surgical mesh since it was adopted for hernia repair surgeries. In recent years, the mesh has been used in treating women who suffered from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The transvaginal mesh is embedded through incisions in the vagina during the surgery. The actual mesh is a flexible patch of screen, made of plastic-like components, and is designed to support weakened areas of the body.
A transvaginal mesh surgery is considered one of the most common procedures performed on women who gained weight or those who experienced childbirth. Even with numerous successful mesh implantations performed, the mesh has been associated with many painful and dangerous complications. Get to know more about the symptoms and diagnosis of a common complication called “mesh hardening” in the following paragraphs.
Several manufacturers are engaged in the production of transvaginal mesh devices. After surgery, the plastic components in these devices often become brittle and hard. This leads to the fragmentation of the mesh into sharp pieces which could then puncture surrounding organs and cut tissues. When a mesh accidentally hardens, especially in the vaginal walls where muscles contract and expand constantly, infection, pain, nerve damage, and tissue destruction may develop as an outcome.
Symptoms of Mesh Hardening
Here are the common symptoms of mesh hardening:
- Painful or difficult urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Persistent vaginal infections
- Vaginal and pelvic pain
- Fetid vaginal discharge
If these recurring symptoms are left untreated, infection can be transmitted throughout the body, causing chills, fever, fatigue, and may lead to the shutting down of other organs. Furthermore, hardened mesh that turns into sharp mesh fragments can puncture the bowel, the vaginal wall or the bladder.
Diagnosing Mesh Hardening
If you have experienced the symptoms of mesh implant complications, check your medical records to determine the brand and type of transvaginal mesh you’ve received. Certain kinds of mesh have greater failure rates than others. Your doctor may ask you to submit yourself to the following tests to reach a diagnosis:
- Blood Testing
- CT scans or Ultrasound for possible damage to nearby organs
- Rectal exam for fistula (an abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina)
- Pap smear
- Complete pelvic exam
Recommended Treatment Options
A hardened mesh in the vagina is usually removed surgically to relieve sexual dysfunction, pain, and other problems. If the rectum, vaginal walls, or other organs were impaired by the mesh, they will have to be repaired through surgery as well. Antibiotics are prescribed as needed to avoid infection. Other options, such as replacing the mesh with a better model, might be considered to ease the symptoms in SUI and POP. It is also expected that initial complaints of pain, pelvic pressure, and urinary leakage will return after the removal of the mesh.