Women who have received transvaginal mesh implants to treat stress urinary incontinence had a 1 in 30 chance of suffering complications requiring the removal of the device or the need to undergo further surgery within 10 years. And women who received additional transvaginal mesh after the failure of the initial mesh were five times more likely to suffer complications requiring more surgery, according to a new research.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, is the first to gauge the rate of mesh removal or revision among Canadian women. It involved data from more than 60,000 women who had undergone transvaginal mesh surgery between 2002 and 2012 to treat stress urinary incontinence, a condition in which women leak urine when they cough, sneeze or are physically active.
As a treatment for incontinence, transvaginal mesh – also called a bladder sling – is inserted through the vagina to hold up organs, such as the bladder, that have dropped due to childbirth, obesity or age. Within the past two decades, transvaginal mesh has become the most popular surgical treatment for stress urinary incontinence.
However, in some women the mesh can erode into the tissue and protrude into organs causing chronic pain, organ damage, painful sexual intercourse, and incontinence. In some cases, women have had to undergo repeated surgeries to remove the mesh, and for some, the complications last a lifetime.
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada have warned women that complications with transvaginal mesh – which is also used to treat pelvic organ prolapse – are not uncommon. In the United States, more than 50,000 women have joined class action lawsuits targeting manufacturers of transvaginal mesh.