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Pelvic Organ Prolapse

For women who have been diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse (POP), there aren’t many options to fix it. So when doctors tell them that transvaginal mesh surgery can fix the problem, injured patients jump at the chance. Often, these same women aren’t told that these devices never went through clinical trials or testing, that a growing number of pelvic mesh products are being yanked from the shelves and that thousands of women have suffered debilitating internal injures as a result. Instead, they trust their doctors and the device manufacturers that make the transvaginal mesh products.

Reasons for a Prolapse

A prolapse can happen to women of any age but is mostly associated with older women who have gone through menopause, a hysterectomy or childbirth. POP happens when the internal organs, such as the uterus, bladder and rectum, drops (or prolapses) out of the normal position and sink into the vaginal canal. This can cause excruciating pain that makes standing and sitting impossible.

Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Many women have an organ prolapse and don’t know it. It becomes problematic when it becomes painful and interferes with normal bodily functions. There are several kinds of POP:

  • Bladder (Cystocele) – When the muscles and tissue that holds up the bladder become loose and weak, the bladder presses against the vaginal wall and forms a bulge. This is the most common kind of prolapse.
  • Urethral (Urethrocele) – When the urethra – the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body – is not supported by surrounding tissue and muscle, it can widen and curve. A bladder and urethral prolapse often happens concurrently.
  • Uterus (Uterine) – When the uterus drops out of its normal position, it can bulge into the vagina.
  • Small Bowel (Enterocele) – The small bowel, which is typically located above the uterus, can slip below the uterus and press on the vagina.
  • Rectum (Rectocele) – If the rectum, which is the lower part of the intestines before the anus, slips out of place due to weakened muscles, it can push into the back of the vagina.
  • Vaginal Vault Prolapse – In hysterectomy patients, this type of prolapse commonly occurs because the uterus has been removed. This causes the top part of the vaginal canal to drop and sag.

POP Surgery Becomes Less Invasive

For years, doctors have been using polypropylene mesh devices to fix these prolapses. Originally, the most common way of putting them in place was through abdominal incisions. Less than a decade ago, surgeons discovered that the mesh devices could be inserted through the vaginal area and a few small incisions in the vaginal wall.

Revision Surgery

Research now shows that mesh inserted through the vagina erodes into nearby tissue, leaving sharp edges that can perforate organs and cause infections and internal bleeding. Some researchers think that the body launches an immune attack on vaginal mesh, causing the erosion.

A Difficult Procedure

When patients undergo surgery to remove the device, called revision surgery, they realize that it’s not quick or easy. Some surgeons have likened the process to picking gum from hair. Because the mesh becomes intertwined with surrounding tissue, it does not come out in one piece. Instead, surgeons have to palpate, or gently press, on the tissue to find microscopic pieces. This can take hours and, often, several surgical procedures before the mesh is completely removed. There are only a handful of surgeons nationwide who have become skilled at mesh removal.

Mesh Lawsuits

Because of these injuries, patients are being forced to seek legal and financial remedies in court. The medical device manufacturers who make vaginal mesh used a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) loophole to have these devices approved for sale and never performed human trials. Instead, women were used as test subjects. Medical device manufacturers have the responsibility to ensure their products are safe for human use before they are used. Instead, they chose profit over safety.

    We Can Help

    If you or a loved one has been injured by a pelvic mesh device, seek out a skilled medical product liability attorney immediately. Because of the statute of limitations in some states, you may have a limited time to file a claim. Funds from a lawsuit can help pay for your revision surgery, prescriptions, lost time from work and pain and suffering.

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