Doctors who treat women with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) sometimes recommend that they undergo a surgical procedure to receive a transvaginal mesh implant. The purpose of the synthetic or natural mesh is to strengthen the weakened areas of the vagina.
POP causes ligaments and muscles surrounding the vagina to become weak and fall out of their natural position. Women with SUI leak urine during everyday physical activities, such as laughing, sneezing, or coughing. A transvaginal sling that relieves pressure on the bladder is the most appropriate surgical method of treating this common problem.
Typical Side Effects and Risks of Transvaginal Mesh Surgery
All medications and surgery come with the risk of side effects, including the transvaginal mesh procedure. Doctors must inform their patients of potential risks like irregular vaginal discharge, persistent vaginal bleeding, and recurring urinary tract infections before scheduling the surgery.
Most women understand these risks and agree to go ahead with the transvaginal mesh or sling implant to treat their POP or SUI. Unfortunately, thousands suffered significant complications that neither they nor their doctor ever expected. According to Biomed Research International, the figure may be as high as 25 percent of all women who underwent surgery for one of these conditions, but it is at least 10 to 15 percent.
Serious Complications of Transvaginal Mesh Surgery Reported to the FDA
Doctors have routinely recommended the placement of mesh to reduce the symptoms of POP or SUI since the 1990s. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had received more than 1,000 complaints from women who had undergone the procedure over the past three years.
By 2010, the federal watchdog agency had received more than 4,000 complaints. This is around the same time that patients began filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of the surgical mesh. More than 100,000 women and their families have filed personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuits as of 2022. Some have joined class action lawsuits with other injured patients, while others have chosen to sue the manufacturer independently.
The following are some of the most common serious complications reported:
- Mesh became exposed within the bladder, rectum, or vagina
- Mesh eroded within the bladder or rectum
- Muscle pain and/or weakness
- New onset of POP or SUI
- Painful sex
- Painful urination or urinary incontinence
- Perforation of the bowel, blood vessels, or bladder
- Severe pain
- Vaginal shrinkage and/or scarring
The only way to correct these problems is for a surgeon to remove the old mesh and insert a new one. Having to repeat the transvaginal mesh surgery left women vulnerable to experiencing the same problems again while obtaining little to no relief from their original medical issue.
Who Are the Transvaginal Mesh Manufacturers?
Attorneys representing injured patients have named these manufacturers in lawsuits to date:
- American Medical Systems
- Boston Scientific
- CR Bard
- Cook Medical
- Johnson & Johnson
Injured Patients May Be Eligible for Compensation
Women who have experienced unexpected or severe complications may be eligible for compensation via a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. Typical areas of compensation include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering due to another party’s negligence.