Vaginal Mesh Erosion

by Steve Fields on July 14th, 2012

Women suffering from stress urinary incontinence (SUI) have received surgical mesh – sometimes called a bladder sling – since the 1990s. Unfortunately more women have come forward after suffering from vaginal mesh erosion side effects. Those suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) have received mesh implants since the 1970s. It wasn’t until 1996 that the FDA approved the first device designed to be installed through the wall of the vagina. It was to repair SUI. In 2002, the agency approved the first mesh implant designed for transvaginal placement for POP repair. Since then, thousands of women have complained of severe vaginal mesh complications that have diminished their quality of life.

The Food and Drug Administration noted in 2011 that mesh erosion is the most common injury reported by implant recipients. Based on over 100 studies involving 11,785 women, the incidence rate is believed to be nearly 10 percent. This issue has spurred hundreds of injured women to file transvaginal mesh lawsuit claims against the companies that made their defective devices.

Many women who have undergone vaginal mesh surgery are unfamiliar with erosion. We’ll describe this problem in detail below, along with a related issue known as extrusion.

What Is Vaginal Mesh Erosion And Extrusion?

The implants included within the vaginal mesh kits sold by medical device manufacturers are designed to be held in place by the body’s tissues. The tissue of the vaginal wall is supposed to grow into the device, preventing it from moving. This process of tissue ingrowth has failed to occur properly in a substantial number of cases. As a result, the pelvic mesh starts to migrate away from the implantation site, typically moving through the vaginal wall. This is called erosion.

The term erosion is sometimes used interchangeably with the term extrusion, but the words describe different circumstances. Extrusion occurs when a portion of the migrating mesh moves through the wall of the vagina far enough to protrude into the vaginal canal. It can often be observed with the unaided eye.

Erosion and extrusion of a mesh implant cause severe pain for the recipient. In many cases, the pain is debilitating. The FDA mentioned in 2011 that extrusion may also cause pain to the penis during sex.

Surgical Mesh Erosion Into The Bladder Or Rectum

In rare cases, pelvic mesh migrates through the wall of the organ it is meant to support – namely the bladder or rectum (and on very rare occasions, the bowel). Implant erosion through the wall of the bladder can occur following mesh installation to repair a cystocele (bladder prolapse). In addition to pain and recurrent urinary tract infections, this problem may allow a fistula to form between the bladder and vagina, leading to urine drainage.

Mesh erosion into the rectum is more serious. A fistula that forms between the rectum and vagina will allow the drainage of stool. This sets the stage for severe infection.

How Mesh Erosion And Extrusion Are Corrected

Pelvic mesh that starts to migrate can sometimes be repaired. The surgeon may be able to return the implant to its original position, and secure it in place to prevent further migration. In most cases, however, the device must be surgically removed and replaced. Unfortunately, doing so may prove impossible. The FDA has noted that some women are forced to endure several surgeries to correct vaginal mesh erosion, and even then, the attempt to do so may be unsuccessful.

Erosion of the implant into the wall of the bladder must be corrected by removing the device. This is accomplished through a large abdominal incision to provide the surgeon with sufficient space to repair the damaged tissue. Rarely, the implant’s removal and tissue repair are done transvaginally.

Rectal erosion is also resolved by removing the surgical mesh. Here, however, the device is removed via the vagina and rectum with the surgeon approaching the site through a vaginal incision.

Erosion and extrusion are serious transvaginal mesh complications that can cause enormous pain and suffering for women. When the implant cannot be removed, the pain may become chronic. The recipient may be forced to endure the discomfort, along with persistent bleeding and recurrent infections, over the long run.

If you received pelvic mesh and experienced erosion or extrusion of the implant, you may be able to file a claim for compensation against the device manufacturer. Contact a vaginal mesh lawsuit settlements attorney to discuss your options.

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