Mesh implants are a common surgical solution to medical issues experienced by women throughout the world, and their use has been growing in popularity over the years. However, the last decade has proven a challenge for medical providers as well as the manufacturers of mesh implants as many patients have undergone procedures to remove them due to uncomfortable complications. In a recent report released by the NHS, thousands of women have gone under the knife to have a mesh implant removed, representing nearly one in 15 patients who have the procedure performed. In light of the recent glaring statistics on mesh implant surgery failures, hundreds of patients throughout the UK have banded together to sue the NHS and major manufacturers of implants based on the life-altering damages they experienced.
What is Mesh Implant Surgery?
A mesh implant, often referred to as a transvaginal mesh, is designed to treat stress incontinence which results in women leaking from their bladder during certain activities. A sneeze, running, or jumping can cause the leak, making it difficult to live a normal, comfortable life. While many women experience incontinence after giving birth, this common medical issue can be linked to the natural aging process as well. In addition to providing a course of treatment for incontinence, vaginal mesh implant surgery is also used to treat women with pelvic organ prolapse. When the pelvic organs, such as the uterus or bladder, sag due to weakened or damaged muscles in the pelvic floor, an inability to go to the bathroom, ongoing pain, and uncomfortable sensitivity can occur.
Mesh implants were created years ago to help remedy these issues among women. Through a surgical procedure, the netting of the mesh implant is attached by sutures or fixation devices to provide permanent support to weakened organs that may cause incontinence or pelvic prolapse. Over time, the idea is that the surrounding tissue joins with the mesh, creating a stronger wall of support and ultimately easing the symptoms caused by these common medical issues. While vaginal mesh implants have shown promising results in thousands of women who suffer from incontinence and pelvic prolapse, the increasing number of patients who return to have an implant removed after surgery is alarming.
Mesh implants used for treating incontinence and pelvic prolapse come in a variety of forms in the UK alone, and the medical device has been used in practice for several years. However, minimal testing was conducted on the long-term risks associated with vaginal mesh implant surgery, especially for patients undergoing the procedure for pelvic prolapse. Instead of requiring additional testing or reporting of complications among patients, providers at NHS have continually used vaginal mesh implants as the first course of treatment for women experiencing incontinence and prolapse.
A solicitor working with malpractice cases related to mesh surgeries shares that despite the popularity of the procedure – nearly 92,000 women have undergone the surgery in the last decade – the complications that can arise post-surgery can lead to devastating results for women and their loved ones. One woman taking part in the lawsuit against NHS and leading mesh implant manufacturers explained that she was forced to give up her work due to the debilitating pain she was in after her procedure. After several visits to the hospital to consult doctors about a solution for the constant pain, the woman was told the implant could not be safely removed because of its close proximity to a major nerve. Instead of a remedy, the patient is forced to live with constant discomfort and pain. The underlying issue is that the risks all too common with vaginal mesh implant surgeries are not discussed at length with women receiving the treatment, nor are viable alternatives.
In recent months, medical providers from across the UK have come together to spark a discussion surrounding the continued use of vaginal mesh implants given the increasing number of patients experiencing complications after surgery. An all-out ban has been suggested, citing there are other surgical procedures that, while more invasive, offer similar results without the prevalence of complications over time. However, most agree that vaginal mesh implants should still be considered as a course of treatment for incontinence and pelvic prolapse, but with a greater focus on disclosure of the risks associated with the procedure and the alternatives women have in finding the right treatment.