In addition, an FDA Safety Communication issued July 13, 2011, noted that a review of published scientific literature from 1996-2011 showed vaginal mesh erosion through the vagina was the “most common and consistently reported mesh-related complication” from transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse (POP) surgeries using mesh.
What is vaginal mesh erosion?
Vaginal mesh erosion, sometimes referred to as vaginal mesh exposure, extrusion, or protrusion, occurs when the mesh fails to remain in place and instead works its way through the vaginal wall, eroding skin and tissues. The mesh may then become visible around the vaginal area.
Women who experience vaginal mesh erosion often suffer pain, bleeding, and painful sexual intercourse, sometimes leading to an inability to engage in sexual intercourse at all. Men may also experience irritation and pain to the penis during sexual intercourse with a woman who suffers vaginal mesh erosion.
Women who have experienced these vaginal mesh complications may require additional surgical repairs to attempt to remove the mesh, but the FDA has noted that sometimes even multiple surgeries may not resolve serious transvaginal mesh complications such as vaginal mesh erosion.
Women seeking relief for POP may experience vaginal mesh complications
POP occurs when the muscles and tissues that hold the pelvic organs in place become weakened or stretched due to childbirth, surgeries, menopause, or other causes. As a result, the internal organs—including the bladder, uterus, rectum, and bowel—may bulge (prolapse) into the vagina or even past the vaginal opening.
Some women can cope with POP through lifestyle changes, but others suffer more serious symptoms. These may include pain and pressure, painful sexual intercourse, disruption of normal urinary and defecatory functions, and stress urinary incontinence (SUI)—a condition in which normal activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise causes leakage of urine.
Women with more serious symptoms of POP may opt for surgical repair. Traditional methods do not employ the use of mesh, but newer methods adopted mesh to provide additional and supposedly superior support the pelvic organs. Unfortunately, surgery with mesh has been found to increase risk of transvaginal mesh complications.
FDA’s recommedation to reduce risk of vaginal mesh erosion
The FDA has recommended that patients considering surgical repair with mesh be aware of potential vaginal mesh complications like vaginal mesh erosion, and discuss with their doctors other repair alternatives. Patients should also be sure their doctors are well trained in surgical mesh implantation with the product they intend to use.