In July 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that surgical mesh posed risks for women seeking to have pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repaired.1 The FDA estimates that as many as 100,000 surgeries were performed in 2010 alone for women suffering from POP. Some women seeking this surgery may be good candidates for pelvic mesh alternatives.
What is POP?
After women have children, undergo a hysterectomy or go through menopause, the muscles that support internal organs can weaken.2 When this happens, pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and bowels may begin to slip out of place. This slipping out of place is called prolapse, which can cause a lot of problems,3 including:
- Stress incontinence
- Abdominal pressure
- Sexual problems
- Back pain
- Leg fatigue
Pelvic mesh: What it is and related complications
One of the treatments for POP is surgical repair. In a surgical repair, the prolapsed organ is repositioned and when surgical mesh is used, and the mesh secures the organ in place. Some common vaginal meshes used include the ProteGen Sling® (voluntarily recalled),4 Gynecare TVT®, Gynecare Prolift® and the Bard Avaulta®.5
From 2008 to 2010, the FDA received thousands of reports regarding surgical meshes.6 Patients filed a number of complaints about adverse events, which included:
- General pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal wall erosion
- Infections and abscesses
- Abdominal pressure
- Bowel and bladder perforation
- Internal bleeding
- Urinary problems
Pelvic mesh alternatives
Given these serious complications linked to pelvic mesh, some pelvic mesh alternatives and treatment options are available to patients. These alternatives range from no action to other types of surgery. Pelvic mesh alternatives include:
- Kegel exercises
- Pessary use
- Dietary changes
- Smoking cessation
- Bulking agents injections
- Mesh-free surgery which sutures the organ in place
In February 2013, a New Jersey Superior Court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $3.35 million to a South Dakota woman, Linda Gross, for the injuries she sustained from her vaginal mesh implant.7 Hundreds of American women, injured by vaginal mesh related surgeries, have filed similar lawsuits.
Surgical mesh has been in use for decades, but patients may not be aware of the serious complications that these surgical implants can cause. Patients should consider pelvic mesh alternatives; however, for those already injured by the use of pelvic mesh, contacting an experienced lawyer can help you better understand your rights and determine whether you are eligible to file a legal claim.