This is often heard from Canadian doctors who want to isolate this as a U.S. problem or from docs who want to blame the problem on an antiquated mesh.
Fact: “That mesh” is polypropylene mesh. That is the number one question to ask if you hear the above – “Is it polypropylene?” If the answer is yes, that may be your cue to find the nearest exit. The fact is that unless a mesh has been quietly removed from the market, and there are a few of them, the problematic mesh is still used every day. That includes pelvic meshes that have been found to be defective in a court of law. Incredible! They are still for sale. Did your doctor tell you that? “Mrs. Jones, this mesh has been found to be defectively designed by a jury after listening to evidence in a product liability trial, but I’m sure it will be fine.” Not. Look at the label, that’s all you need to know.
You got to love this one. You didn’t have pelvic pain before mesh, then you have mesh and are in excruciating pain. The doctor says it couldn’t be the mesh. It’s been placed correctly.
Fact: Until recently, studies did not even consider QOL (Quality of Life) as a factor to define the “success” of a mesh placement. Anatomical placement, in other words, mesh in the correct place defined a “successful” outcome. Never mind that the woman may be unable to leave her bed because of the complications, much less work or care for children. Women were told if the mesh was in the correct place, it couldn’t be presenting you with a problem. You might want to see a counselor, a psychiatrist or we could send you to pain management. Countless women have heard the above.
Fact: This statement has been repeated to women by doctors wanting to implant pelvic mesh and by the defense lawyers for manufacturers – Boston Scientific, Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson) and CR Bard at trial. The issue is the quantity of the mesh. That defense attorney is referring to polypropylene sutures which have been used since the 1970’s for hernia repair. Since pelvic organ prolapse was thought to be a hernia-like condition, sutures knitted into a mesh, some as large as a hand, with extended arms, were developed. Of course the quantity of the mesh for a small suture repair and a large mesh implant is not comparable. As one mesh critic doctor says, “The more mesh, the more mess.”
Unfortunately, the FDA has not issued any warning about the rate of complications for hernia mesh, though many suffer the same symptoms as pelvic mesh women.