Suffering from a persistent case of urinary incontinence, Carol Kouyoumjian believed surgery would help her. The former nurse underwent an operation about six years ago in which surgeons inserted transvaginal mesh around her bladder in an effort to reposition it and stop it from leaking. Unfortunately, the surgical mesh not only failed to fix Ms. Kouyoumjian’s incontinence, it appears to have given her another much worse problem.
According to Canada’s CTV, Ms. Kouyoumjian says the pain she felt when she woke up from the surgery was “absolutely unbelievable,” registering as a 12 on a pain scale of 1 – 10. Her pain was so intense she told CTV her legs were “literally vibrating.”
Recovery was anything but. Instead of getting better, a chronic pain overtook Ms. Kouyoumjian’s legs, causing her to lose her nursing job because she could not stand for very long. Today, six years, later, Ms. Kouyoumjian continues to cope with the pain, which she blames on the transvaginal mesh.
If a recent study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology is correct, Ms. Kouyoumjian is far from alone. Researchers found that as many as one in six women implanted with transvaginal mesh to correct symptoms related to stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse will experience complications.
Vaginal mesh products are designed to hold pelvic organs in place, but the mesh often erodes through the vaginal walls, perforates the bladder and other organs, causes internal bleeding and infection, and, almost universally, an intense and crippling pain. Making matters worse, surgical removal of the mesh can difficult and complicated, if not impossible, because of the way the mesh becomes incorporated with the surrounding tissue. Multiple surgeries to remove the mesh are often needed.
Like Ms. Kouyoumjian, fellow Canadian Diane McLaughlin had a transvaginal mesh implant in 2006 to solve her bladder problem. The mesh worked for her, but she says it also created frequent episodes of intense leg pain that she said were so bad, “you could just sit down and cry.”
As a result of their extreme and ongoing injuries, both women have joined a multi-billion class action lawsuit in Canada against the makers of transvaginal mesh products. The women allege they were not fully warned about the risks of injury and other complications associated with the mesh.
Both Ms. Kouyuoumjian and Ms. McLaughlin have been told that they will have to live with their defective transvaginal mesh and the pain because it has too fully become part of their bodies and removal could cause any number of complications. It’s news nobody wants to hear, especially when the problem that led them to surgery was minor by comparison.