Bladder Sling Surgery Recovery

by Steve Fields on April 14th, 2012

Vaginal mesh surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is potentially unsafe and for some patients bladder sling surgery recovery involves complications and ongoing pain. The FDA expressed the risks differently in a 2011 safety announcement, but their message was essentially the same. Thousands of women have reported serious transvaginal mesh complications after receiving surgical mesh (sometimes called a bladder sling). Some have experienced a marked decrease in their quality of life.

Following on the heels of the FDA’s announcement, several transvaginal mesh lawsuit claims were filed throughout the U.S. The number of lawsuits continues to grow. To understand the motivation behind them, it’s important to be familiar with the injuries reported by women who have undergone vaginal mesh surgery for POP and SUI repair.

Overview Of POP And SUI

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the organs in a woman’s pelvis drop (or prolapse) from their positions. The condition is caused by a laxity in the muscles and ligaments that normally hold the organs in place. When the bladder, rectum, or small bowel fall, they press against the wall of the vagina. If the uterus falls, it drops into the vaginal canal. Pelvic mesh is placed through the vaginal wall to provide support for the fallen organs and prevent further damage.

Stress urinary incontinence is also due to muscular laxity. The muscles of the urethral sphincter – a valve that constricts to prevent the passage of urine – weaken. As a result, sudden pressure (e.g. a cough, laugh, etc.) can cause an involuntary urine leak. A bladder sling is transvaginally placed to provide support to the urethra.

Vaginal Bleeding And Urinary Tract Infections

Bleeding is a common problem that can occur if the vaginal tissue fails to hold the pelvic mesh in place. The device may move through the tissue (a condition called erosion), causing hemorrhaging. The bleeding may become persistent, in which case prompt medical care should be sought.

Many women have also suffered recurring urinary tract infections. These too might stem from migration of the device through the vaginal tissue. Bacteria may spread to the bladder and kidneys, leading to infections in both areas. If substantial bacteria enter the bloodstream, it can be life-threatening.

Painful Sensation During Sexual Intercourse

Known as dyspareunia, pain during sex is common with women who have received a mesh implant through the vaginal wall. In most cases, it is due to erosion, or extrusion, of the implant. A segment of the device can often be seen in the vaginal canal, and felt by a woman’s sexual partners during intercourse. The pain is often so severe that many women have been forced to abandon sex altogether.

Shrinkage (Contraction) Of Surgical Mesh

There have been numerous reports that the medical device shrinks after it is installed. Its contraction can lead to shortening and tightening of the vagina, both of which can cause severe vaginal and pelvic pain. The pain is usually constant, and only disappears after the device has been removed.

Organ Perforation During Vaginal Mesh Surgery

The FDA mentioned in its 2011 safety announcement that perforations of the bowel, bladder, and blood vessels had occurred in some patients during surgery. In two cases, the patients died. The cause of the perforations may be related to the space limitations of the area in which the device is implanted.

Surgical Mesh Complications Include Implant Erosion

As described earlier, erosion refers to the migration of the device through the body’s tissues. According to the FDA, this problem is the most frequent pelvic mesh complication reported. Most cases involve the implant moving through the vaginal mucosa toward the vaginal canal. Occasionally, however, the mesh device will move in the other direction, into the prolapsed organ.

For example, if the bladder has fallen from its place, the implant may erode into it. In addition to pain, the patient may notice blood in her urine. She might also develop a severe urinary tract infection. If the rectum is prolapsed, the implant may migrate through its tissue. This can cause serious infection, especially if stool is allowed to escape.

Most vaginal mesh complications following bladder sling surgery recovery can be resolved by removing the implant. In some cases of erosion, however, doing so may not be possible.

If you received a mesh implant and have suffered pain, bleeding, infection, or erosion, you may be able to file a vaginal mesh lawsuit. Contact a bladder sling lawsuit attorney to discuss your case.


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