Surgical mesh is a medical device that is generally used to repair weakened or damaged tissue (specifically in pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI)). It is made from either porous synthetic material or biologic material.
In 2008, the FDA issued a Public Health Notification stating that the issues with the use of synthetic vaginal mesh was a growing concern. However, on July 13th, the FDA updated the previous Notice with an Alert stating that serious complications associated with surgical mesh for transvaginal POP repair are not rare. In fact there are now reports of thousands of complications from the mesh, with at least 10 deaths being reported.
The mesh product is implanted during surgery to repair POP and SUI. The synthetic mesh has edges that are in some cases piercing the surrounding tissue and puncturing the bladder, uterus, or bowel. The “patches” can also migrate doing irreparable damage as they move around. Women are also suffering horrible infections because of the mesh.
These types of mesh underwent virtually no safety review by the FDA or any other regulatory agency before being put on the market by manufacturers. Once the mesh is implanted it is very difficult to remove. Even after multiple surgeries doctors are sometimes unable to remove all of the mesh which by that point has become infused to the surrounding tissue.
The injuries that women are suffering from this mesh implant are severe and debilitating and could have been avoided had people had the proper information. There are other safer alternatives to synthetic mesh (biological mesh for example) that should be considered before the decision is made to use synthetic materials.
Sometimes these injuries can take years to develop after the initial surgery. In 2010 there were at least 100,000 of these mesh implants performed.