May 21, 2014 — Surgery to remove vaginal mesh does not always improve side effects like pain and incontinence, according to two studies presented this week at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting.
The first study was reassuring for women who are considering revision surgery to treat pain — so long as they have no other complications. Conclusions were based on data from 123 women who had surgery to remove vaginal mesh or another device known as suburethral tape. Over two-thirds were pain-free after the surgery, and most patients had lower pain within two to three years after surgery.
The second study was less reassuring for women who had numerous complications in addition to pain. Researchers from UCLA analyzed data on 214 women who had surgery to remove vaginal mesh. Three years after the surgery, they found the following rate of complications:
- One-third of women still had moderate to severe pain
- 28% had urinary incontinence at least once a day
- 50% still had pain during sexual intercourse.
However, the study was limited because surveys were sent to 700 women, but only one-third responded.
Vaginal mesh is a permanent implant that is designed to grow into tissues in a woman’s pelvis. When complications occur, it may be difficult or impossible for a doctor to remove the device without causing even more serious damage. This is one reason why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered re-classifying vaginal mesh as a “high-risk” medical device three weeks ago.
Thousands of women who were implanted with vaginal mesh have filed lawsuits against manufacturers for failing to warn about long-term complications. One of the most common complications, erosion of the mesh through the vaginal wall, can cause chronic pain and interfere with sexual intercourse. Many women are seeking compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium with their spouse, medical expenses, future revision surgery, permanent injuries, and more.
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