Urology

Mesh Complications

If you’ve had surgery to treat a pelvic floor disorder, you might have had a procedure involving mesh material. Surgical mesh can cause a variety of symptoms that were not present before the surgery.

These symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty urinating or inability to urinate
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate (overactive bladder or OAB)
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Bladder stones
  • Inability to move urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureteral obstruction)

Causes of Mesh Complications

Mesh complications occur for a variety of reasons:

  • Mesh is a foreign substance and your body may react to it by trying to expel it or by creating excessive inflammation or scarring. Some people may even be allergic to mesh, and react as it degrades.
  • Mesh can erode into adjacent organs or the vagina
  • Mesh can create a breeding place for infection
  • The mesh procedure, performed through small incisions with long sharp instruments, can sometimes  damage adjacent organs, blood vessels, and nerves without the surgeon even knowing it

Treatment of Vaginal Mesh Complications

There are a variety of treatments for mesh complications depending on the symptoms as well as extent of damage to your body from the mesh. The simplest treatment options include using estrogen creams to help the body try to heal itself.  Unfortunately, in our experience, this is not always enough. The goal for surgical treatment of vaginal mesh complications is to excise, or cut out, as much of the mesh as possible without causing damage to any adjacent tissues or organs.   Although we aim to remove all of the mesh, sometimes this is not possible because the mesh is inserted into areas surrounded by delicate nerves and blood vessels which can be damaged and cause more problems if injured.

Ultimately, the decision about type of surgery is based on carefully listening to patients needs and fears and tailoring a surgical plan based on this.