Dangers of Vaginal Mesh Surgery for Incontinence May Be Overstated: Study

Vaginal Mesh Surgery Dangers May Be Overstated

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Surgical mesh appears to be relatively safe for treating urinary incontinence in women, despite concerns raised by U.S. regulators, a new report contends.

Only one out of every 30 women who receive a synthetic vaginal mesh sling to treat stress incontinence will suffer a complication that requires a second surgery, according to a decade-long follow-up study of nearly 60,000 Canadian women.

“If a person has a sling in, 97 percent of them will do just fine and will have a good outcome potentially up to 10 years, in terms of their risk for future surgery,” said study author Dr. Blayne Welk, an assistant professor of urology at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine Dentistry in Ontario.

The researchers also found that women can greatly reduce their risk of complications by choosing a surgeon who performs these mesh implants on a regular basis.

“You want to go to someone who’s doing this routinely,” said Dr. Harvey Winkler, co-chief of the division of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. “When he’s putting this sling in, it’s just another day at the office for him,” added Winkler, who was not involved with the study.

Stress incontinence occurs when tiny amounts of urine leak due to coughing, laughing, sneezing or other movements that place stress on the bladder.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released several warnings in recent years related to the safety of vaginal mesh, according to background information in the article.

The mesh devices can cause pain, infection, bleeding, pain during intercourse and urinary problems, according to the agency. And surgery to remove or fix the mesh does not always clear up these symptoms.

Most recently, the FDA said in April 2014 it plans to reclassify surgical mesh as a “high-risk” device for fixing pelvic organ prolapse, in which weak or failing muscles allow pelvic organs such as the bladder, bowel and uterus to drop below their normal position and bulge (prolapse) into the vagina.

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