Bladder Sling Failure

by Steve Fields on May 7th, 2012

Transvaginal mesh surgery is performed to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), however a number of women have suffered from bladder sling failure propblems. The former is defined by a weakness in the muscles, ligaments, and supportive tissues found in the pelvic floor. When they weaken, the organs they support drop from their positions, and push against the vaginal wall. The latter condition is characterized by weakness in the muscles that control the passage of urine. A cough or sneeze can produce a leak. Thousands of women have undergone mesh surgery and reported a number of serious vaginal mesh complications.

Below, we’ll describe the most common problems reported to the Food and Drug Administration over the last several years. The FDA announced in July 2011 that the following complications were “not rare” in cases where mesh was placed transvaginally for POP repair. It was after this disclosure that the number of vaginal mesh lawsuit claims began to rise dramatically.

Surgery Mesh Erosion Through The Vaginal Wall

The FDA reviewed literature regarding the safety and effectiveness of surgical mesh placement through the vagina. The literature covered procedures performed between 1996 and 2011. The agency found that the most commonly reported problem was vaginal mesh erosion (sometimes called extrusion).

Erosion occurs when the mesh device moves through the vaginal wall. In some cases, a piece of the product is exposed vaginally, and can be observed with the unaided eye. It can also be felt – and sometimes will cause discomfort for men – during sexual intercourse. Vaginal mesh extrusion usually causes pain and bleeding. Women may also notice a discharge.

In cases where the piece of exposed mesh is small, the tissue of the vagina may grow over it. Because further extrusion is possible, however, surgeons usually recommend that the device be removed. Unfortunately, the FDA noted in July 2011 that its removal is sometimes impossible, even with multiple surgeries.

Vaginal Mesh Erosion Into The Bladder Or Rectum

Far less common is extrusion of the device into the tissue of the bladder or rectum. These cases are more serious than vaginal mesh erosion. A device that erodes into the wall of the bladder may cause blood to seep into the urine (hematuria) as well as recurring urinary tract infections. If the mesh erodes into both the bladder and vagina, a fistula may form between the organs. This can allow urine to drain into the vagina.

Rectal mesh erosion is particularly dangerous. It can cause fecal matter to drain outside the rectum, leading to infection. The woman will likely experience severe pain, and may notice the presence of blood during bowel movements. A device that erodes into both the vagina and rectum can cause a fistula to form between them. Stool will thus be able to drain into the vagina.

Both bladder and rectal mesh erosion require that the product is surgically removed. Because of the organs’ positions in the pelvis, abdominal surgery is usually necessary.

Mesh Contraction (Shrinkage)

Contraction of the device means that it shrinks after implantation. The condition is usually accompanied by vaginal shortening, tightening, and pain. Researchers for a study published in the February 2010 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology stated that mesh contraction is associated with severe vaginal pain and morbidity. It requires removal.

The FDA noted that mesh contraction did not show up in scientific literature prior to October 2008. Thus, they did not report the problem in the public health notification announced at that time.

Pain During Sexual Intercourse (Dyspareunia)

Women who have received mesh vaginally often suffer from pain during sex, a condition known as dyspareunia. In most cases, this is due to extrusion or contraction of the device. Given that the product’s removal is not always possible, dyspareunia may become permanent for many women.

Recurring Vaginal Infections

Infections are attributable to vaginal mesh erosion and contraction. They can be managed with antibiotics, but like dyspareunia, may become a lifelong problem if the device cannot be removed.

As noted earlier, hundreds of vaginal mesh lawsuit claims have been filed against some of the manufacturers. Many more are expected. If you received a vaginal mesh implant and have suffered any of the bladder sling failure complications described above, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Contact a transvaginal mesh lawsuit lawyer to discuss your options.


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