Surgical mesh has been used for decades to support tissues that may have been weakened by trauma or stress. Vaginal mesh is one type of surgical mesh that is used as a sling to keep pelvic organs from moving inside the body. It can be synthetic or organic, depending on the patient’s preference.
The most common uses of vaginal mesh are the treatment of stress urinary incontinence, or SUI, and pelvic organ prolapse, POP.
SUI is increasingly common in women and has been studied more than any other urological disorder in recent years.
“Weak tissue around the bladder can make it susceptible to pressure which can cause leaks,” explained Arthur Mourtzinos, MD, a urologist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “Even the simplest movements, like standing up, laughing or sneezing can cause what is often an embarrassing outflow. In this case, vaginal mesh is used to support the neck of the bladder or the urethra to stem the flow and regain urinary continence.”
Pelvic organ prolapse is a potentially more severe disorder. For POP sufferers, the pelvic muscles are stretched or weakened from childbirth, a hysterectomy or other trauma, and can no longer support the bladder, bowel and uterus. This can lead to serious prolapse of the organs, where they drop into the vagina causing further issues, like severe pain, internal infections and ulcers. Transvaginal mesh is used to hold those organs in place to reduce the risk of prolapse.
There are risks involved with transvaginal mesh surgeries. Complications can include erosion of the implanted mesh sling, perforation of blood vessels and nearby organs, or infection from the newly introduced surgical mesh. “POP mesh surgery is classified by the FDA as a class III, high-risk procedure,” said Mourtzinos, “But with proper training, an experienced surgeon can reduce potential complications.”
If you suffer from SUI or POP, it’s important to talk to a physician and surgeon to make sure you are a good candidate for this surgery.