Transvaginal mesh has evolved from exclusive use as a means to treat hernias to a response toward women’s issues such as Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and incontinence issues stemming from childbirth. Pelvic organs will sag against and into the uterus over time unless there is medical intervention to prevent their migration. Previous treatments have included fairly involved surgery to stitch and shore up wayward organs back into place using a women’s own tissue. However, a less-invasive approach featuring transvaginal mesh - often inserted and deployed through a tube by way of a small incision - has been favored for speedier healing and less dependence on an extended hospital stay for recovery.
But the TVT sling has run into problems - so much so, in fact, that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated the well over 30 manufacturers of TVT slings to conduct post-marketing studies of their products. The FDA has also issued an opinion that, in the agency’s view, the use of the TVT sling is no longer necessarily the safest procedure, and thus should be considered as a last-line-of-defense treatment option.
Christine Asprey would agree. The Winnipeg mother of four received a transvaginal sling implant from Health Sciences Center’s Women’s Hospital one year ago. According to an account in the Free Press, the 49-year-old has been unable to return to work since her surgery in January 2012, and has described her life as “hell on Earth.”
Various mesh lawsuits have alleged the implanted mesh has migrated, pushing against the uterus and actually protruding into the vagina. Some women, due to transvaginal mesh complication, have been resigned to suspending sexual intercourse with their respective partners for fear of injury to the penis. Other plaintiffs have alleged that mesh has become so intertwined with tissue that a problematic TVT mesh is unable to be removed safely, forcing a woman to live with the pain and inconvenience for an incalculable length of time.
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Perhaps they would rather have the sling procedure as needed, but without the TVT side effects that have not only fuelled the inevitable transvaginal mesh lawsuit, but also serve as the source for a life that some continue to describe as “a living hell.”
Transvaginal mesh complication has included perforation of the vaginal walls, pain, urinary problems, bleeding and the recurrence of prolapse and/or incontinence. Women reporting problems associated with the procedure in North America reportedly number into the thousands.