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Medical innovation can be a wonderful thing, but occasionally a product or procedure turns out to be more trouble than it’s worth. Vaginal mesh, a semi-permeable reinforcement barrier surgically implanted into a woman to help keep her organs in place, has been around since the 1950s. However, use of vaginal mesh has become one of the more controversial issues in medicine today.
In the 1970s, doctors began cutting vaginal mesh into different shapes and using it to treat Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) in women. As the use of mesh to treat these conditions became more popular in the 1990s, medical device companies began to develop mesh products specifically designed to treat SUI and POP.
In recent years, an alarming number of women have suffered serious medical consequences that appear to be related to the vaginal mesh devices. Last week, a Nevada woman filed a lawsuit against the makers of a mesh device, claiming the device forced her to have three corrective surgeries.
“Unfortunately, this is just one in a series of lawsuits involving vaginal mesh devices,” explains attorneyMartin Sweet of legal information websiteTHELAW.TV. “The medical community has been slow to recognize the dangers of these devices.”
Last summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to doctors about using surgical mesh devices to treat SUI and POP. Over a three year period, FDA officials said they had received nearly 3,000 reports of complications with surgical mesh devices, including:
Bowel, bladder and blood vessel perforations
Vaginal scarring, which led to significant pain and decrease in quality of life
In response to the FDA warning, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) said it supported the findings and said all surgical procedures to treat POP carry potential risks. AAGL also said the FDA’s recommendations “do not apply to the use of mesh for treatment of stress incontinence.”
Despite the FDA warning, many physicians continue to use surgical mesh devices to treat SUI and POP. However, there are some alternative treatments. In some cases, a removable device called a vaginal pessary can be used to help keep organs in place. Other surgeries can also help.
If you’re suffering from SUI or POP, you should talk to your doctor about treatment options. And if you are experiencing complications from vaginal mesh surgery, you should consult an attorney.