Surgical mesh implants can be used to fix stress urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and hernia. Surgeons place the medical device on the affected area to support tissues and bones. Let’s discuss the primary uses of mesh implants in this article.
What is a Surgical Mesh?
Surgical mesh implants are screen-like materials used to reinforce bones and tissues. This support can be temporary or permanent. Temporary meshes dissolve as time passes, while permanent ones stay in the body.
These loosely-woven sheets are made of artificial polymers or biopolymers:
- Absorbable synthetic polymers (polyglycolic acid or polycaprolactone).
- Non-absorbable synthetic polymers (polypropylene).
- Biologic (acellular collagen sourced from cows or pigs).
- Composite (a mix of any of the three previously mentioned materials).
Uses of Surgical Mesh
Surgical mesh implants can be used for pelvic organ prolapse and hernia surgery.
Doctors use synthetic meshes for organ prolapses in the pelvic region, which occur in 50% of women above 50 years old. These women usually have a history of one or more vaginal childbirths throughout their life.
When prolapse happens, the smooth fibers in the organs become more vulnerable, and the pelvis gets stiffer. If the surgical mesh is too elastic, it might not support the organ. But if it’s too stiff, the tissue will get damaged, and complications may arise.
Mesh surgery can be implanted through the vagina. Transvaginal mesh is also known as a hammock, sling, ribbon, or tape. It has holes that let the body’s tissues regenerate into the mesh.
The most common material for pelvic surgery mesh is RP, which has better biocompatibility within the organ. This type of surgical mesh induces a mild inflammatory response.
Transvaginal mesh can also be used to deal with urinary continence. But this option should be a last resort if other non-surgical treatment options have been unsuccessful.
Before considering getting a transvaginal mesh, ask your doctor the following question:
- What type of mesh should be used? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the material?
- Are there other treatment options?
- What are the benefits of getting pelvic surgery?
- Are there also risks associated with the procedure and the use of mesh?
- What happens to my organs if I do not undergo the process?
- Is the doctor competent enough to do this procedure?
- How will the procedure proceed?
The United Kingdom temporarily banned vaginal mesh implants in 2018 for treating urinary incontinence because of safety issues. It’s also classified as “class III” or high risk in the United States FDA in 2016.
The most common use of surgical meshes is hernia surgery, which occurs when an organ or fatty tissue bulges through other body parts. It can be through openings or debilitated parts of the muscle.
Sometimes, this muscle opening or weakness exists at birth. But most cases often occur later in life. The condition leads to increased abdominal pressure, especially when the individual is obese, lifting heavy objects, or experiencing diarrhea.
The most common surgical mesh implant for hernia surgeries is polypropylene. Some specialists also use polyethylene terephthalate and polytetrafluoroethylene.