Long-term Impact of Transvaginal Mesh Complications

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Attorney Jessie Paluch, founder of TruLaw, has over 25 years of experience as a personal injury and mass tort attorney, and previously worked as an international tax attorney at Deloitte. Jessie collaborates with attorneys nationwide — enabling her to share reliable, up-to-date legal information with our readers.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and legal experts at TruLaw and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Jessie Paluch, you can do so here.

TruLaw does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us by using the chat on the bottom of this page. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

Key takeaways:

  • Transvaginal mesh complications can cause various distressing physical symptoms like chronic pelvic pain, irregular bleeding, urinary problems, and sexual dysfunction, significantly impacting patients' quality of life.
  • Treating mesh complications poses challenges due to the surgical intricacies of removing the mesh and the uncertainty of symptom resolution post-surgery.
  • Women experiencing mesh complications can access support services like helplines, peer groups, and hospital programs for information, emotional support, and guidance on non-surgical and surgical treatment alternatives to mesh.

Overview of Transvaginal Mesh Complications

On this page, we’ll discuss Transvaginal Mesh Complications, common side effects and adverse events of transvaginal mesh complications, the impact of mesh complications on quality of life, and much more.

Long term Impact of Transvaginal Mesh Complications

Intro to Transvaginal Mesh Complications

Some of the most common transvaginal mesh complications include, but are not limited to:

  • Mesh Erosion: The mesh can erode through the vaginal wall or other tissues, causing pain, bleeding, and infection.
  • Chronic Pain: Many women experience chronic pelvic, vaginal, or abdominal pain due to mesh complications.
  • Infection: Mesh implants can increase the risk of recurrent urinary tract or vaginal infections.
  • Organ Perforation: In some cases, the mesh can perforate nearby organs such as the bladder or bowel, leading to serious complications.

If you’ve experienced any of these or other complications related to a transvaginal mesh implant, you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact TruLaw today using the chat on this page for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal rights.

Table of Contents

Physical Symptoms of Transvaginal Mesh Complications

Transvaginal mesh complications can manifest through various physical symptoms, affecting a patient’s quality of life.

These issues often present as different types of pelvic pain and urinary incontinence, reflecting the severity of the condition.

Pain and Discomfort in the Pelvic Region

Patients may experience chronic pelvic pain following transvaginal mesh surgery, which could be indicative of complications.

This discomfort can vary in intensity and may be associated with certain activities or periods of rest.

The following are some of the symptoms of chronic pelvic pain that may occur after transvaginal mesh surgery:

  • Occasional sharp pains or a steady dull ache in the pelvic area.
  • Pain during intercourse leads to a decrease in sexual activity due to discomfort.
  • A sense of pressure or heaviness within the pelvic region.
  • Exacerbation of pain when sitting or standing for long periods.

Irregular Vaginal Bleeding or Discharge

An unexpected symptom that could signal a problem is the occurrence of irregular vaginal bleeding or discharge after the placement of transvaginal mesh.

The following are some types of irregular vaginal bleeding or discharge that may occur after transvaginal mesh placement:

  • Spotting or bleeding that is not associated with a menstrual cycle.
  • An increase in vaginal discharge, which may be a sign of an infection.
  • The discharge may have a foul odor or an unusual color, indicating possible complications.
  • Persistent bleeding or discharge that does not resolve with typical interventions.

Patients with these symptoms should seek medical advice, as they could point to mesh exposure or erosion, two significant mesh-related complications.

These physical signs, especially when accompanied by stress urinary incontinence or pelvic floor disorders, underscore the importance of a thorough medical evaluation.

Urinary and Bowel Problems Caused by Mesh Complications

Transvaginal mesh complications can have specific and significant effects on urinary and bowel functions, leading to distressing symptoms for patients.

Incontinence and Infection Issues

Mesh complications can lead to urinary incontinence, greatly affecting a patient’s quality of life.

These complications include:

  • Urinary Tract Infections: Mesh can irritate the urinary tract, making infections more likely.
  • Incomplete Bladder Emptying: Mesh that erodes or shifts can cause obstruction, preventing the bladder from emptying fully.
  • Recurrent Incontinence: Mesh placement is often intended to treat incontinence, yet complications can lead to its recurrence.
  • Surgical Treatment: Some may need removal or revision surgeries through the Urinary Incontinence Treatment Network to address these issues.

Boldly put, mesh complications can turn a solution into a source of ongoing problems.

Impact on Bladder and Bowel Function

The bladder and bowel can be directly affected by mesh complications, with a range of troublesome symptoms.

Mesh complications can cause a variety of problems with bladder and bowel function, including:

  • Voiding Dysfunction: Mesh erosion into the bladder can lead to difficulty or pain during voiding.
  • Bladder Outlet Obstruction: Displaced mesh can constrict the bladder outlet, obstructing multiple complications.
  • Bladder Neck Involvement: When the mesh affects the bladder neck, it can result in discomfort and control issues.
  • Bowel Complications: Similarly, mesh can impact bowel function, causing pain, obstruction, or perforation.

Each symptom signifies a piece in a patient’s well-being puzzle, warranting careful and considerate medical attention.

Sexual Dysfunction Resulting from Mesh Complications

Transvaginal mesh complications can lead to a range of issues, with sexual dysfunction being among the most distressing.

This can manifest as pelvic pain and discomfort during intercourse, impacting both physical intimacy and emotional well-being.

Discomfort and Pain During Sexual Intercourse

Mesh complications can cause painful sexual intercourse, a condition medically known as dyspareunia.

This discomfort can stem from various factors:

  • Mesh Exposure: The protrusion of mesh through the vaginal tissue.
  • Inflammation: The body’s response to the foreign material can lead to chronic irritation.
  • Nerve Damage: Improper placement or mesh migration can affect nearby nerves.
  • Scar Tissue Formation: Complications can result in scarring that stiffens the vaginal wall.

Patients report varying degrees of pain, from mild irritation to severe pain that prohibits any sexual activity.

Strain on Intimate Relationships and Emotional Well-being

Sexual dysfunction caused by mesh complications can create a vicious cycle.

The constant pain can make sex not only uncomfortable but also anxiety-provoking, leading to a fear of intimacy.

The repercussions of mesh complications can be far-reaching, affecting not just the physical aspect of sex but also the psychological aspect of intimacy:

  • Emotional Distress: Constant pain can lead to fear of sexual activity, anxiety, and depression.
  • Decreased Libido: Ongoing discomfort often results in a reduced interest in sexual activity.
  • Relationship Strain: Partners may struggle with the lack of physical intimacy and understanding of the pain experience.
  • Self-Esteem Issues: The ongoing issues can affect a patient’s self-perception and confidence.

The emotional toll of sexual dysfunction should not be underestimated as it can profoundly affect one’s quality of life.

Challenges in Treating Transvaginal Mesh Complications

Transvaginal mesh complications can create significant barriers to effective treatment.

Two major hurdles stand out here: the surgical intricacies of removing the mesh and the unpredictability of symptom resolution post-surgery.

Difficulty in Removing the Mesh Implant

Transvaginal mesh removal presents a unique surgical challenge.

Over time, the mesh can become enmeshed with surrounding tissues, making it difficult to separate without damaging healthy tissue.

When it comes to surgical treatment, particularly mesh removal surgery, patients and doctors face several challenges:

  • The Integration of the Mesh into Surrounding Tissues: Over time, the mesh can become closely intertwined with the body’s tissues, complicating mesh excision.
  • Risks of Additional Damage: During mesh removal, vital tissues and nerves around the implant could be harmed.
  • Multiple Surgeries Might be Required: In some instances, complete transvaginal mesh removal may necessitate more than one operation.
  • Specialized Surgical Expertise is Necessary: Not all surgeons can perform mesh revision surgery; it requires specific skills and experience.

Uncertainty in Symptom Resolution After Mesh Removal

The road to recovery after mesh removal surgery can be unpredictable.

While some women experience complete resolution of their symptoms, others may see only partial improvement or even develop new ones.

Following mesh removal surgery, patients might face uncertainty regarding the improvement of their symptoms:

  • Variability in Outcomes: Some patients may experience complete relief, while others might notice only partial improvement.
  • Persistent Pain can Occur: Even after successful mesh excision, some individuals may still suffer from chronic pain.
  • Possible New Complications: Surgical intervention can lead to new issues, including infections or bleeding.
  • Psychological Impact: The stress of undergoing mesh removal and facing unpredictable results can affect a patient’s mental well-being.

Importance of Informed Consent Before Mesh Implantation

Before undergoing a transvaginal mesh procedure to treat or repair pelvic organ prolapse, patients need to have a clear understanding of the potential risks and benefits.

Informed consent serves as a fundamental basis for patient awareness and decision-making.

Understanding the Risks and Benefits of the Procedure

Transvaginal mesh implantation comes with its own set of potential risks and benefits.

Patients should be made aware of all aspects to make an educated decision.

Key Points Before Consent:

  • Risk factors such as age and extent of prolapse.
  • Probability of success in treating pelvic organ prolapse.
  • The likelihood and severity of potential complications.
  • The possibility of future surgeries to repair pelvic organ prolapse or complications.

Discussing Alternative Treatment Options with a Specialist

Exploring all treatment options is a vital part of the informed consent process.

Patients should discuss with their healthcare provider to understand all available methods.

Available treatments include, but are not limited to:

  1. Non-surgical options like pelvic floor therapy.
  2. Surgical alternatives without the use of mesh.
  3. Partial or full mesh implants, depending on the individual’s condition.
  4. The pros and cons of opting for newer, minimally invasive procedures.

Each option above must be evaluated based on the patient’s health profile and risk factors.

Support Services for Women with Mesh Complications

Women experiencing issues with transvaginal mesh have access to specialized support services designed to assist them through their medical journey.

These services provide information, emotional backing, and a sense of community among those affected.

Victorian Mesh Information and Helpline

The Victorian Mesh Information and Helpline offers critical resources for women with mesh complications.

Below is a concise list of the offerings available:

  • Immediate Assistance: Women can receive prompt support and information regarding mesh complications.
  • Clinical Guidance: The helpline provides access to healthcare professionals for medical advice.
  • Referrals: It directs patients to appropriate health services and specialists.
  • Information Packs: These are delivered upon request to provide comprehensive details about mesh complications and potential treatment options.

Peer Support Groups and Hospital Programs

Peer Support Groups and Hospital Programs offer women a platform to share their experiences and recovery strategies.

Here’s a snapshot of what they provide:

  • Community Support: They cultivate a strong community where individuals can share personal stories and coping strategies.
  • Shared Resources: Members exchange information about navigating the healthcare system and available treatments.
  • Emotional Resilience: The groups bolster emotional strength through shared understanding and empathy.
  • Educational Events: Regular meetings and workshops are held to educate members about the latest research and management techniques for mesh complications.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

While pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can significantly impact quality of life, not all cases require surgical intervention.

Some viable non-surgical alternatives focus on strengthening the pelvic floor and managing symptoms.

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy and Bladder Training

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a cornerstone of POP’s non-surgical management.

It involves exercises specifically designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles and improve control.

Here are some key components of pelvic floor physiotherapy:

  • Kegel Exercises: These are targeted contractions designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Biofeedback: This technique uses monitoring devices to help patients become aware of their pelvic muscles and control them better.
  • Electrical Stimulation: Weak electrical currents can stimulate muscle contractions, aiding muscle strength and function.
  • Bladder Training: involves scheduling or techniques to control urinary urge and frequency, aiding those with accompanying urinary symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes and Use of Vaginal Pessaries

Lifestyle modifications can also play an important role in managing pelvic organ prolapse.

Consider these lifestyle adjustments:

  • Weight Management: Remaining within a healthy weight range can reduce pressure on the pelvic floor.
  • Dietary Changes: High-fiber diets can prevent constipation, which exacerbates POP.
  • Avoidance of Heavy Lifting: Reducing strain on the pelvic area can help manage prolapse symptoms.
  • Smoking Cessation: Smoking can lead to chronic coughing, which increases abdominal pressure and pelvic floor strain.

The use of vaginal pessaries is another non-surgical option.

Pessaries are devices inserted into the vagina to support the prolapsed organs.

This method can be particularly beneficial for women who are not candidates for surgery or who prefer to avoid pelvic surgery.

According to a study, pessaries, in conjunction with pelvic floor muscle training, represent effective conservative treatments for some women.

Surgical Alternatives to Transvaginal Mesh

When surgically addressing female pelvic organ prolapse, a variety of methods exist beyond transvaginal mesh, focusing on the repair of pelvic organs using native tissue or alternate surgical approaches.

These techniques aim to mitigate prolapse and stress urinary incontinence while reducing the complications associated with mesh.

Native Tissue Repair and Biological Graft Repair

Native tissue repair methods, which use the patient’s vaginal tissue for POP repair, have been widely used for decades.

These techniques leverage the natural tissues to reconstruct the pelvic floor.

Here are some of the common native tissue repair procedures:

  • Anterior or Posterior Colporrhaphy: Tightens the vaginal wall to correct anterior or posterior prolapse.
  • Uterosacral Ligament Suspension: Reconnects the vaginal apex to the uterosacral ligaments.
  • Sacrospinous Ligament Fixation: Attaches the vaginal apex to the sacrospinous ligament.
  • McCall Culdoplasty: Supports the vaginal vault and obliterates the cul-de-sac to prevent future prolapse.

Biological grafts may also be used as an alternative to synthetic mesh.

These grafts can be:

  • Autologous: Derived from the patient’s own tissues.
  • Allograft: Harvested from a donor.
  • Xenograft: Sourced from other species, commonly porcine or bovine.

Pubovaginal Sling and Colposuspension Procedures

For stress urinary incontinence, which often accompanies prolapse, there are established non-mesh surgeries such as pubovaginal slings and colpo-suspension.

Pubovaginal sling procedures use a strip of the patient’s tissue to support the urethra.

This can be effective for those with intrinsic sphincter deficiency:

  • The sling is placed underneath the bladder neck or mid-urethra.
  • The traditional sling procedure has been adapted to minimize tissue dissection and recovery time.

Colposuspension, including the Burch procedure, seeks to elevate and secure the vaginal wall tissue adjacent to the urethra to an abdominal structure:

  • It’s indicated for treating urinary incontinence due to urethral hypermobility.
  • It can be done via an open incision or laparoscopically.

By employing these surgical management strategies, physicians offer a range of options tailored to the patient’s unique pelvic reconstructive needs, seeking to restore urinary function and support pelvic organs without using mesh.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the indicators of mesh erosion?

    Mesh erosion, also known as mesh exposure, can be identified by symptoms such as persistent vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse.

    Sometimes, the mesh can be felt through the vaginal wall.

  • How can one identify the symptoms of bladder sling failure?

    Symptoms suggesting a failure of a bladder sling include recurrent urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, difficulty urinating, and discomfort or pain in the pelvic region.

  • What complications might arise from the use of surgical mesh?

    The use of surgical mesh can lead to complications, including infections, mesh erosion, organ perforation, and chronic pain.

    In some cases, these complications require additional surgeries to address.

  • Can hysterectomy lead to specific mesh-related complications?

    Following a hysterectomy, specific complications related to mesh use can include vaginal mesh exposure or erosion, as well as issues like fistula formation and pain during sexual activity due to the mesh affecting the surrounding tissues.

  • How does one distinguish between bladder sling and pelvic mesh issues?

    Distinguishing between complications from a bladder sling and pelvic mesh involves assessing the symptoms: bladder sling issues are often related to urinary function, whereas pelvic mesh problems may also involve pelvic organ prolapse.

  • What are the potential long-term effects of bladder sling procedures?

    Long-term effects of bladder sling procedures can range from recurrent pelvic pain to ongoing urinary incontinence.

    Some individuals may also experience painful sexual intercourse or require additional interventions.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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