After childbirth, menopause, and even hysterectomies, some women find that the muscles that support internal organs weaken.1 Pelvic organs, including the uterus, bowels, and bladder, slip out of place, resulting in pain and other problems. To correct problems with urinary incontinence and prolapse problems, surgery is often recommended; however, over the past several years, the use of pelvic mesh and slings in bladder and other organ prolapse repair surgeries has been found to cause more harm than good for some patients.2
Pelvic/bladder prolapse repair surgeries
Surgical repairs of the prolapsed organ (bladder, womb, and bowels) help reposition the organ in hopes of curing pain and other medical problems.3 Surgical meshes are then used to secure the organ in place; however, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported, pelvic mesh and bladder slings have been linked to a number of problems.
Complications from various surgical meshes
After receiving thousands of complaints, the FDA recognized several complications related to the use of various surgical meshes. The range of pelvic mesh and bladder sling complications included:
- Pain during intercourse
- Urinary problems
- Vaginal wall erosion
- Abdominal pressure and pain
- Organ perforation
- Corrective surgeries
Pelvic mesh/bladder sling recalls
For years, the FDA has monitored the safety of medical devices and drugs. When a medical device, like an implant, poses risks, the FDA issues warnings, but when the device proves to be more dangerous, the federal agency recalls the product. For pelvic meshes and bladder slings, recalls have occurred.
As early as 1999, the FDA recalled the ProteGen Sling,4 a mesh implant used in pelvic prolapse surgeries for bladder and other organ problems. The ProteGen was linked to a number of complications following pelvic mesh and bladder sling surgeries. Some of the problems included recurring infections, vaginal and urethral erosion, and pain.
The ProteGen has served as the prototype for several other vaginal meshes, including the Gynecare Prolift and the Bard Avaulta.5 These bladder sling and pelvic mesh implants, which are also used in pelvic prolapse and bladder repair surgeries, have yet to be recalled.
Filing a lawsuit
One of the first widely known pelvic mesh/bladder sling lawsuits involved Linda Gross, who suffered a number of complications linked to her Gynecare Prolift implant.6 Gross, a former nurse, underwent surgery to relieve bloating and constipation; however, following the surgery, she experienced urinary pain, swelling, and 12 corrective surgeries. In February 2013, Gross was awarded more than $3 million by a New Jersey Superior Court for her injuries caused by the Johnson & Johnson vaginal mesh implant.7
Johnson & Johnson is not the only company facing pelvic mesh/bladder sling lawsuits. Bard Medical, the maker of the Bard Avaulta Surgical Mesh, is currently facing about 600 federal lawsuits.8
Large drug companies make billion of dollars each year and have a duty to make safe products. In the case of pelvic mesh and bladder slings, companies should have known that their implants would cause serious health problems. For those already injured by pelvic meshes and bladder slings, relief could be as easy as making a call to an experienced lawyer, who can help you better understand your remedies and protect your legal rights.