Mesh Complications: Using Medical Mesh to Solve Pelvic Problems

Due to the many women who suffer from urogynecological disorders including pelvic organ prolapse, the medical industry has increasingly offered the option of implanting medical mesh to solve the issues. Ultimately, the intent of this medical mesh—which is often attached to tissue in the pelvic area during surgery—has been to provide physical support to any prolapsed pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum or to reinforce pelvic floor or vaginal tissues. When properly placed, mesh implants are successful and have improved the lives of many women.

Unfortunately, however, an increasing number of complications have arisen from the improper placement of the mesh; and a staggering number of women have had to undergo surgery to remove or repair mesh that has caused them harm. At Coyle Institute, our specialization in urogynecological conditions has given us experience in addressing mesh complications; and under the leadership of urogynecologist Dr. Michael Coyle, we can offer the patients in our care relief from the pain and danger associated with medical mesh failure.

Medical Mesh Materials

Generally speaking, materials used in making surgical mesh are either biological or synthetic. Synthetic mesh is usually composed of stainless steel, polyester fibers, Teflon, or a plastic called polypropylene which is often used to create ropes and fabrics. The thickness, flexibility, shape, and size of the mesh are determined not only by what function it will serve and how it is implanted but also by how the patient may respond to the introduction of certain materials in their body.

Mesh Complications: Facets Of Failure

Regardless of the materials chosen, however, the instances of mesh complications have gained a great amount of attention—especially in cases of transvaginal mesh. Transvaginal mesh used most often to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence is usually made of polypropylene. Unlike other mesh implantations, transvaginal mesh is implanted vaginally, which means that the procedure is faster, easier, and less invasive—all factors that have played a key role in making this particular method more attractive. Despite its apparent benefits in simplifying the process, however, this transvaginal technique sometimes results in post-surgery complications, including:

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain in the pelvis, genitals, or groin
  • Infection, such as UTI (urinary tract infection)
  • Bleeding, including vaginal bleeding, bloody stool, or blood in the urine
  • Urinary issues, such as incontinence, retention, or pelvic organ prolapse
  • Perforation of the organs
  • Mesh erosion
  • Mesh exposure
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Damage to the autoimmune system
  • Bruising or hematomas
  • Scarring

One of the most severe and truly dangerous of these complications is erosion, which occurs when the mesh itself actually begins to cause the internal soft tissues—such as the vaginal wall—to wear away as it slowly moves through the tissues and into the surrounding organs. Additionally, erosion may cause the formation of pus-filed sores called abscesses; intense pelvic pain; bowel or bladder damage; and the development of small tunnels connecting the vagina and rectum, called recto-vaginal fissures. Such complications require the removal of the mesh implant, and sometimes multiple surgeries are necessary to repair the damage or remove the mesh.

Another extremely dangerous mesh-related complication is organ perforation, which means that mesh erosion has progressed to the point that the mesh has actually perforated the walls of a hollow organ in the body, most often the bladder, the urethra, the bowel, or the rectum. Perforation can, in some cases, lead to infection; and the only solution is surgical intervention to remove the mesh, often accompanied by a procedure to resection the bowel as well as a blood transfusion and colostomy.

Unfortunately, some women may also experience the complications of mesh exposure, which means that the mesh has become exposed in the vagina due to the fact that the incision made during the implantation of the mesh has not healed completely over the mesh or, in some cases, that the vaginal skin has been worn away over time after the incision has healed.

At Coyle Institute, we can provide the procedures necessary to address the failures of these medical devices, and we work with our patients to safely restore them to health, happiness, and freedom from the pain that has been plaguing them. Whether they suffer from such conditions as pelvic organ prolapseurinary incontinenceendometriosisfibroid uterusdefecatory dysfunction, or one of the many other urogynecological dysfunctions, our patients are our number one priority; and we dedicate ourselves to giving them cutting-edge care and the very best solutions for their particular needs.

Give Dr. Coyle and his team at Coyle Institute a call today!

Naturally, many medical procedures come with a risk, and to learn more about the risks involved with medical mesh implants, visit the FDA Public Health Notification on surgical mesh complications.