Vaginal mesh is a common medical device used to repair certain types of pelvic floor disorders and has been used in various forms since the 1970s. Adapted from hernia mesh, which is used to repair hernias, vaginal mesh is a pliable, net-like material that is inserted into the vagina to support a future prolapse or sagging uterus, according to the Bladder and Bowel Community. While vaginal mesh does help many patients with serious pelvic floor issues, it is known to cause dangerous side effects for others. Depending on the type and brand of vaginal mesh used, the experience of the surgeon, correct diagnosis, and whether or not this type of device should have been used in the first place, vaginal mesh can cause a plethora of severe injuries and life-lasting complications. If you are one of the thousands in Ontario who have suffered a vaginal mesh injury, by working with an Ontario vaginal mesh lawyer, you may be able to receive significant financial compensation for your many damages.
The lawyers at The Preszler Law Firm have been offering professional personal injury legal services since 1959 and have the knowledge and experience to help you pursue the maximum compensation for your injuries.
One in Four Women Suffers From a Pelvic Floor Disorder
According to US News, one in four women over the age of 20 suffers from pelvic floor dysfunction. The complications of each person’s pelvic floor dysfunction varies from minor to severe. Some women’s symptoms are trivial enough that no treatment is necessary. Many others find relief with non-surgical treatments, such as pelvic floor physical therapy, which a recent British Columbia study found to have a very high success rate, according to PT in Motion News. The women in the study who underwent physical therapy experienced 75% fewer leakages due to Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) than the control group. Other pelvic floor disorder patients opt for surgical treatment, and most of the time, relatively high-risk vaginal mesh is used in those surgeries.
The Two Most Common Types of Pelvic Floor Disorders That Vaginal Mesh is Used to Treat
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP): Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when ligaments and muscles that support the pelvic organs are weakened. This weakening of the support structures causes the pelvic organs, such as the uterus, rectum, and bladder, to “prolapse” or drop into or press onto the vagina, according to the Office on Women’s Health. Common causes of pelvic organ prolapse include the following:
- Vaginal childbirth;
- Giving birth to a child weighing more than 3.9 kilograms;
- Long-term pressure on the abdomen, such as that caused by obesity, chronic cough, and constipation;
- Hormonal changes during menopause; and,
- Being genetically predisposed.
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse range from mild to severe, and include the following, according to WebMD:
- Feeling pressure or fullness in the pelvic region;
- An ache very low down in the back;
- Pelvic pain;
- Bulging tissue that protrudes to or past the vaginal opening;
- Painful intercourse;
- A sensation that something is falling out of the vagina;
- Chronic urge to urinate;
- Urinary leakage from the vagina;
- Bleeding or spotting from the vagina; and,
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI): With sudden pressure on the bladder, women who have stress urinary incontinence may leak a few drops of urine or have an embarrassing soaked clothes incident, according to the Urology Care Foundation. This leakage is caused when the sphincter muscles open briefly, caused by the weakening of pelvic floor muscles. Examples of “sudden pressure” includes the following, depending on the severity of the stress urinary incontinence:
- Lifting objects;
- Sneezing or coughing;
- Standing up from a sitting or lying down position;
- Walking; and,
- Bending over.
In general, women are much more likely to develop stress urinary incontinence than men. Contributing factors to SUI including the following:
- Childbirth and pregnancy (SUI usually goes away after pregnancy and childbirth for most women);
- Being overweight or obese;
- Chronic cough;
- Nerve injuries to the lower back; and
- Having pelvic or prostate surgery.
Vaginal Vault Prolapse
Less common than pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence is vaginal vault prolapse—a third type of pelvic floor disorder that vaginal mesh is used to treat. According to the UNC School of Medicine, vaginal vault prolapse occurs when the upper part of the vagina loses its shape. This causes it to sag or droop down into the canal of the vagina, or even outside of the vagina. Like other forms of pelvic floor dysfunctions, vaginal vault prolapse is caused by the weakening of muscles and ligaments within the vagina and pelvis. Signs and symptoms of vaginal vault prolapse include the following:
- Bleeding from the vagina;
- Pressure or heaviness on the pelvis;
- Recurring bladder infections;
- Chronic need to urinate;
- Urgency to urinate;
- Urinary incontinence;
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Enlarged vaginal opening;
- Excessive or abnormal discharge from the vagina; and,
- Tissue protruding from the opening of the vagina.
How Vaginal Mesh is Used to Repair Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions
Vaginal mesh, also called transvaginal mesh, is the most common medical device used to alleviate pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. One other medical device, called a pessary, is a non-surgical, insertable, and removable device that is placed into the vagina to give support for POP. Many women, with encouragement from their doctors, choose a more permanent solution — surgery using vaginal mesh. Vaginal mesh is placed into the vagina to provide structural support for pelvic organs when the muscles and ligaments can no longer perform the job alone.
Treatment With Vaginal Mesh
The basics of pelvic organ prolapse surgery involve placing the vaginal mesh against the weakened vaginal wall. An insertion is made through the abdominal wall or through the vagina directly. Surgical treatment of stress urinary incontinence, called a mesh sling procedure or a midurethral sling, involves inserting vaginal mesh through the vagina, which is placed to give support to the bladder neck or urethra. Vaginal vault prolapse is also treated with vaginal mesh, which is stitched into connective tissues at the top of the vagina in order to anchor it in place.
Specific Types of Vaginal Mesh Surgeries Used for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
There are three main types of vaginal mesh surgeries for pelvic organ prolapse, according to the Bladder and Bowel Community. These include the following:
- Sacrohysteropexy: One end of the vaginal mesh is attached to the entrance of the uterus (cervix), while the other end is attached to the spinal column, acting to anchor the uterus in one place.
- Sacrocolpopexy: In order to prevent the vagina from collapsing, one end of the vaginal mesh is attached to the top of the vagina.
- Infracoccygeal sacropexy: Instead of being inserted through the vagina, vaginal mesh used during an infracoccygeal sacropexy is inserted into the back of the vagina through the buttocks.
What is Vaginal Mesh Made of?
Vaginal mesh comes in various forms. Some manufacturers have better results than others, and many types of vaginal mesh have been recalled. Unfortunately, there are still dangerous types of vaginal mesh still out there being used by surgeons all throughout Ontario. Below is a description of the materials used to make vaginal mesh:
- Polypropylene: This common type of plastic is used in the majority of vaginal meshes and is designed as a net-like sheet. Polyester mesh has also been used.
- Biological or animal: Animal tissue is used to make some types of vaginal mesh, and in some cases body tissue from the patient may be used to create a sling, acting as the vaginal mesh.
- Composite: Some types of vaginal mesh incorporate multiple types of materials, including plastic and biological/animal.
- Absorbable: Absorbable vaginal mesh is designed only to last a relatively short amount of time—long enough for the body to, in theory, regain strength so that permanent mesh is not necessary.
- Non-absorbable: Most vaginal mesh surgeries rely on non-absorbable, or permanent, vaginal mesh.
The Widespread Damage that Dangerous Vaginal Mesh Has Caused
A recent study found that, in women with vaginal prolapse, vaginal mesh is not a better medical solution than standard surgical repair— surgery that does not rely on the use of any mesh at all. According to the study, which included 3,000 women, “synthetic mesh or biological tissue graft is no better than standard surgical repair.” and “Some women had problems from the mesh.” In fact, many more than a few women have had problems with vaginal mesh. Complications are common worldwide, and some countries have gone as far as banning the use of transvaginal mesh, such as New Zealand. In other countries around the world, experts have contemplated banning transvaginal mesh as well, but in Canada it is still commonly used to repair pelvic floor disorders. If you have suffered an injury from transvaginal mesh, you have likely experienced one or more of the common types of vaginal mesh complications:
- Mesh Erosion: The non-absorbable vaginal mesh erodes, which can cause pieces to protrude through the vagina or move to other parts of the body;
- Mesh Shortening: Over time, the vaginal mesh contracts, pulling and tightening the vagina and causing pain;
- Organ Perforation: The vaginal mesh slices through organs or other body tissues;
Vaginal mesh causes bleeding, pain, vaginal scarring, nerve damage, emotional trauma, urinary tract issues, pain during sexual intercourse, vaginal shrinkage caused by the buildup of scar tissue, infection, and neuromuscular problems. It is also not a failsafe option for fixing the original disorder. Many patients experience the return of their original pelvic floor disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Transvaginal Mesh Injuries
Something may be very wrong with your transvaginal mesh surgery if you notice any of the following pains or issues. You should get to a doctor for a proper examination, and then, if necessary, schedule a consultation with an experienced vaginal mesh lawyer.
- Pain in the groin or buttocks;
- Pain in the pelvic that does not go away with time;
- Pain in the lower abdomen;
- Pain in the thigh;
- Spasms or prickling sensation in the pelvic region;
- Trouble urinating or emptying the bladder fully;
- Painful urination;
- Recurring bladder infections;
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge;
- Signs of abscess or swelling at the mesh intersection or exit sits;
- Pain during sexual intercourse for either party; and,
- If either party can feel the vaginal mesh during sexual intercourse.
What are My Legal Options?
Victims of medical malpractice or, more commonly the case for vaginal mesh injuries, defective medical devices can sue for financial compensation. This involves hiring a lawyer, who will compile your damages, investigate the cause of the injury, and file a personal injury claim with the appropriate party. If negotiations are not successful and the negligent party refuses to cooperate by agreeing to your terms, a lawsuit will be filed. This process of recovering your medical costs, lost wages, and other damages generally takes many months, and can take multiple years if it comes down to a lawsuit. You can count on the Ontario lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm to work diligently and passionately on your claim not only because we care deeply for our clients, but because we do not make anything until your case is settled or won in court.
What is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
At this early stage, it is impossible to put an accurate number on the value of your personal injury case. It takes months of combing through medical records and financial statements before we can begin to answer this question. However, many of our clients have walked away with large sums of money thanks to their perseverance and the hard work of our team.
Damages that you may be entitled to include, though may not be limited to, the following:
- All past, present, and future medical costs incurred by the defective vaginal mesh or medical malpractice;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Transportation costs associated with travel to and from doctor’s visits;
- Cost of childcare;
- Costs of household assistance during recovery or as a result of permanent damage.
An Ontario Vaginal Mesh Injury Lawyer with the Preszler Law Firm Will Help
Victims of defective medical devices, such as transvaginal mesh are up against billion-dollar medical manufacturers and equally powerful insurance companies. As such, you should work with a large law firm that employs experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyers. Here at the Preszler Law Firm, we offer just that. Do not hesitate to call or contact our Ontario law offices today at 416-364-2000 or 1-800-JUSTICE to schedule a free consultation.