Transvaginal mesh is used in surgical procedures performed to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in women. It is a fibrous material which is intended to give support to weakened bladder or vaginal tissue and is implanted through the vagina (transvaginally) rather than through an abdominal incision.
SUI and POP develops in some women after child-bearing or hysterectomy or may develop in older women due to aging tissues which allow pelvic organs to “fall” or prolapse. Transvaginal mesh was introduced to be safer and more effective than other procedures requiring abdominal surgery. Unfortunately, it has been shown to cause severe side effects in up to 10% of the women who receive it. Many of these women develop serious complications and may be required to undergo a transvaginal mesh revision surgery.
What is transvaginal mesh revision surgery?
Transvaginal mesh revision surgery is performed to correct damage caused by the failure of a transvaginal mesh implantation procedure. It may be required for a number of reasons including:
- Transvaginal mesh erosion – implanted mesh may begin to erode the vaginal wall or other organs in the pelvic and abdominal region
- Transvaginal mesh organ perforation – vaginal mesh erosion may become severe and result in complete perforation of the vagina or abdominal organs such as the colon or kidneys
- Recurrence of POP or SUI – failure of the implantation procedure may cause the original medical problem of pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence to reoccur
- New occurrence of organ prolapse or incontinence – erosion or damage to tissues caused by transvaginal mesh may result in a new occurrence of POP or SUI
In some cases, patients may require multiple surgeries to complete a transvaginal mesh revision repair. One or more surgeries may be required to remove the mesh, repair damage to tissues or organs, and/or to treat the SUI or POP condition.
Revision surgery is often more painful and complex than the original transvaginal procedure. Each additional surgery exposes the patient to additional infection and anesthesia risks, along with an increased chance of complication associated with any type of surgery. Revision surgery may also require longer recovery times and in some cases, damage to the pelvic organs may be permanent.
Patients who have developed complications related to transvaginal mesh failure may experience nerve damage with loss of sensation, vaginal shrinkage, chronic pain, and may be unable to have sexual intercourse. Severe or chronic problems associated with transvaginal mesh failure and revision surgery may also contribute to long-lasting emotional trauma.