What Does Pelvic Mesh Do and Why are Women Suing Over It?

Many women have suffered complications after receiving a pelvic mesh implant. The implants were intended to help and improve female health by alleviating symptoms such as urinary incontinence. A new study by ICES  shows that serious complications can occur in up to 90% of those treated with pelvic mesh implants.

However, these implants' benefits appear minimal compared to the millions of dollars paid out to those injured by them. Vaginal mesh lawsuit Chicago is rising against manufacturers of surgical mesh implants and claiming financial compensation for victims. Read to learn what pelvic mesh does and why women are suing the manufacturers.

What's the Work of a Pelvic Mesh Implant?

A pelvic mesh implant is a surgical mesh used to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). SUI is the loss of bladder control, and POP is the protrusion of pelvic organs into the vagina. After being surgically implanted, it provides bladder support and other pelvic organs.

A transvaginal or transabdominal approach is used to do surgery. The surgical mesh is placed through a tiny incision in the vaginal wall and secured with tissue fixation devices. A wall of supporting tissue then grows into the mesh's openings.

Women with stress incontinence may experience bladder leakage during high-impact activities like jogging, jumping, sneezing, or coughing. 20% of women in menopause and after childbirth suffer from symptoms severe enough to disrupt their everyday lives.

Up to half of all postpartum women will experience pelvic organ prolapse, which is the sagging of the bladder, uterus, or rectum. Some women may not have any symptoms, but pelvic organ prolapse is painful, making it impossible to urinate, have intercourse, or both.

The FDA approved the mesh in the 2000s; it has been linked to serious complications, including erosion through organs, nerve damage, organ perforation, infection, and vaginal scarring. The complications can range from mild to severe and require additional surgeries if left untreated.

Why are Women Suing Pelvic Mesh Companies?

While the results were promising for stress incontinence, further research into the safety and effectiveness of pelvic mesh is warranted. Unfortunately, the NHS reports that one in 15 women who undergo pelvic mesh treatment requires surgery to remove the mesh due to its poor success rate.

The tape's effectiveness is questionable even in cases where extraction was unnecessary. 59% of patients said they still had the same problem following pelvic mesh surgery, and 58% said they experienced pain during sexual activity.

Even if that poll wasn't conducted scientifically, its results tell all the same. It's been documented that the mesh erodes and causes a wide variety of unpleasant side effects, including but not limited to discomfort, bleeding, and recurrent prolapse. Because of this, the use of mesh has been outlawed in various countries.

It is why patients worldwide joined together to launch class action lawsuits. It is anticipated that thousands of women have gotten mesh implants and may now be experiencing severe complications. Numerous lawsuits have been brought against the mesh's creators, with the largest aimed at Johnson & Johnson.

After thousands of women worldwide complained of chronic pain, painful intercourse, and incontinence as side effects of Johnson & Johnson's pelvic mesh implants, the company agreed to pay $300 million to settle two class lawsuits.

Class actions were spearheaded by attorneys in Australia who claimed Johnson & Johnson had not conducted adequate testing of the devices and had downplayed the risk to surgeons and patients. Mesh exposure and erosion (when the mesh protrudes through the vaginal wall or internal tissue), vaginal scarring, fistula formation, painful intercourse, and pelvic, back, and leg problems are only some of the difficulties women have experienced. These problems may manifest long after the operation; some are notoriously tough to treat.

How Many Women are Affected by Pelvic Mesh?

In 2014, the UK government released a report estimating that 17,000 women with stress incontinence underwent surgery annually, a number that had been relatively consistent for several years. Vaginal mesh implants for prolapse treatment reached a high of 3,200 sold to hospitals in 2009, but by 2014, that figure had plummeted to roughly 2,000 annually, according to the report.

In 2011, the FDA issued warnings to physicians and patients in the United States due to an uptick in reported mesh-related adverse events. According to the most recent FDA data, over 300,000 American women have prolapse surgery, and another 260,000 get stress incontinence surgery yearly. According to the industry, about a third of prolapse procedures and more than 80 percent of incontinence surgeries were performed transvaginally with mesh.

There are no statistics on the number of Australian women who have received a mesh implant to cure prolapse or incontinence.

Prolapse surgeries have been classified as "vaginal repair," which can include a wide variety of methods that do not use mesh. It also prevents us from knowing how often mesh-related complications occur unless women participate in research studies. However, thousands of mesh devices have been implanted in Australian patients.

Manufacturers have voluntarily removed several mesh products from shelves worldwide, while others have been replaced with similar but less-studied models. Because of this, it's unclear which ones are more likely to cause complications or are more successful.

Can You Reverse Pelvic Mesh Surgery?

The permanent mesh implants are intended to get lodged in the tissue within the initial weeks after surgery, providing enhanced pelvic support. In cases when the vaginal implant has become exposed, surgeons will often remove the mesh covering and sew the area together. Full removal, however, can take hours of surgery, and surgeons must also assess the danger of injury to nerves and surrounding organs, including the bladder and colon.

In short, the pelvic mesh is a product used to aid women in the healing process of implantation and repair. While there have been instances where it has proven effective and helped women, there have also been severe consequences with mesh erosion. The bottom line is that pelvic mesh has severe side effects, and thousands of women have filed lawsuits over the product, which the FDA approved despite insufficient testing.

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