Survey: Surgeons decrease use of transvaginal mesh

For several years, surgeons used surgical mesh (also known as “vaginal mesh” or “transvaginal mesh”) in urogynecologic procedures to repair pelvic organ prolapse or to support the urethra to treat urinary incontinence. However, it was determined that vaginal mesh is dangerous and can cause serious injury.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers and the medical field of these dangers in October 2008 and again in July 2011. The second warning came after the FDA received thousands of injury reports from patients who suffered serious complications from vaginal mesh implants or their doctors.

In November of last year, a survey was conducted at the annual meeting of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists to see how surgeons were responding to the FDA’s warning. The survey revealed that surgeons who specialize in urogynecology have turned away from using transvaginal mesh to repair recurring pelvic organ prolapse.

But the specialists also say they are using surgical mesh more often for primary abdominal repair of prolapse, which the FDA has described as a possible safer alternative in cases where surgical mesh must be used for prolapse repair.

The survey of 281 doctors found that general surgeons were more likely than specialists to still be using the transvaginal mesh. However, surgeons overall reported a decreased use of using transvaginal mesh, and many indicated that they planned to continue this trend.

Most surgeons also said they now give patients more information on the potential risks of vaginal mesh implants, the survey showed.

The FDA is currently deciding whether to label transvaginal mesh as a high-risk medical device. Many consumer watchdog groups are urging it to do so.

Source: Drugwatch, “Following FDA Report, Specialists Decrease Use of Transvaginal Mesh,” Linda Grayling, Oct. 19, 2012