Even though it’s possible to perform corrective surgery on women who have suffered the kind of unpleasant side effects that have prompted them to file transvaginal mesh lawsuits, those ‘successes’ are relative, said Weill Cornell Medical College urologist, Jerry Blaivas, MD.

As part of a study published Oct. 21 in Renal & Urology News, Blaivas performed 47 corrective surgeries on women who had undergone one or more prior revision surgeries to correct an original transvaginal mesh sling complication. While he achieved a 72 percent success rate by removing as much of the mesh material as he could and repairing the defect it caused 34 of his patients, it turns out that half of those women were still experiencing the same negative symptoms post-surgery as they had been before.

The women contained in the study had been suffering from conditions such as urethra-vaginal fistulas, mesh erosions into the bladder or urethra, overactive bladder and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

A little over three years after Blaivas performed their correct surgeries, he found that only 50 percent of patients were relieved of pain after surgery. Successful surgeries were achieved in 93 percent of women who had pre-operative fistula, in 91 percent of women who had been experiencing mesh erosion, and 86 percent with discharge.

“Nevertheless, the failure rate is still too high,” Dr. Blaivas said.

This case series, which was later presented at the International Continence Society’s 2012 annual meeting to make urologists aware of the difficulties associated with these risky revision surgeries, found that women included in the study had undergone an average of 1.9 prior revision surgeries before meeting Blaivias. Their average age was 60 years old.

Although an industry-wide transvaginal mesh recall has not been issued, transvaginal mesh lawsuits are on the rise. Manufacturers American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, Ethicon and C.R. Bard Inc. are all preparing to defend themselves in courts around the U.S.

In 2011, it was revealed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 1,500 adverse event reports of transvaginal mesh side effects after surgeries to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

Published October 24, 2012 by