As described by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaginal mesh is a medical device made from “porous absorbable or non-absorbable synthetic material or absorbable biologic material.” Physicians implant it in women’s bodies to reinforce weakened tissues, specifically muscle walls in the lower abdominal area, to prevent two conditions: stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Although surgical meshes have existed since the 1950s to treat hernias, medical scientists adapted it for insertion (called “placement”) in the vagina leading to its characterization as vaginal mesh. By the 1990s, its popularity encouraged medical device manufacturers to create mesh products specifically designed for vaginal placement.
What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Prolapse means an internal organ shifts out of position and bulges in or through another, usually falling downward due to muscles weakening after childbirth. For POP, the weakened muscle is usually the pelvic floor muscle, but the organs that prolapse into the vagina differ based on the circumstances. For instance:
- Cystocele is a bladder prolapse;
- Urethrocele is similar to a cystocele but refers to the urethra rather than the bladder, but the two often coincide;
- Procidentia means the uterus has prolapsed;
- Rectocele is a rectal prolapse;
- Enterocele is similar to a rectocele but means the small intestine is prolapsing instead of the large intestine;
- Apical prolapse or vaginal vault prolapse occurs when the top of the vagina itself bulges into the vagina
POP is highly common, affecting 30-50 percent of women over their lifetimes, but only two percent have symptoms. Most cases are minor and can be treated by exercises or placing a device inside the vagina to keep organs in place (called a “pessary”). Other women opt for surgery to correct long-term POP.
What Is Stress Urinary Incontinence?
By the FDA’s definition (PDF), SUI is the “leakage of urine during moments of physical activity,” often caused by weakening of the muscle wall between the vagina and bladder. This weakening can occur because of childbirth, menopause, and low levels of estrogen during the week preceding menstruation. SUI affects 20 to 40 percent of women, and like POP, it can be treated with exercise and pessaries on the one hand and surgically on the other. By 2010, 260,000 women out of 300,000 total underwent vaginal mesh procedures to treat their SUI.
Contact RLG for a Free Consultation
If you received vaginal mesh to treat either POP or SUI and believe it injured you, the Rottenstein Law Group would like to help you obtain the compensation from the manufacturer that you deserve. Simply click on this link or call 1-800-624-9567 and a lawyer from RLG will reach out to you and give you a free, confidential legal consultation.