Mesh implants are used in a number of surgery types, so it’s impossible to give a blanket categorization about the safety of this practice. Several factors affect safety, including where the mesh is implanted, how much is put in, the brand and model of the mesh, and the skill of the surgeon and medical support staff.
Common Uses for Surgical Mesh Implants
Surgeries for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) commonly involve using mesh to add reinforcement to the affected body parts. It can support the vaginal walls in POP, or be placed around the neck of the urethra or bladder for SUI support.
Many hernia surgeries use mesh, as well. In these cases, it is used to reinforce the hernia repair.
What Types of Mesh Surgeries are the Most Prone to Problems?
Pelvic and urinary mesh surgeries are the subjects of many lawsuits due to the complications they have caused. It turns out that those who have these operations often face problems like erosion, where the mesh essentially grinds into nearby organs and other bodily structures. The most commonly-reported problem is the erosion of the mesh through the vagina after POP surgery.
This mesh erosion causes a host of problems. Pain, bleeding, painful intercourse, and infection are some of the top issues that result. Organ perforation, which can be deadly, is another possibility.
Similar problems are reported for the urinary version of mesh surgery. In these cases, the problems focus on the bladder and urethra, and cause urinary issues.
In some cases, the mesh can harden within the body. This causes discomfort or pain even if it doesn’t erode into the nearby tissues.
FDA Ban on Transvaginal Mesh for POP Surgeries
In 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered manufacturers to stop selling transvaginal mesh meant for pelvic organ prolapse. The agency continues to maintain that the benefits of these devices do not outweigh the risks.
Despite this, other ways of using mesh for POP surgery are still approved. The most common alternative involves open, conventional surgery or robotic assisted laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy. In these surgeries, the mesh is used to suspend the vagina by attaching it to part of the sacrum.
Even in this version of the surgery, the FDA says that 4% of mesh implants will begin to erode through the vagina within just 18 months of placement. Sometimes, patients are advised to use creams to try to counter the ongoing physical deterioration of their implant, or to go into the doctor’s office to have the protruding part cut off. In other cases, the patient has to go back to the operating room to have some or all of the mesh taken out.
With these factors in mind, we must rate mesh surgery for POP or SUI as unsafe. If you have suffered complications due to these surgeries, including those involving the now-banned transvaginal mesh, use the form on our site to sign up for a free evaluation. You may have legal recourse for your injuries.