Mesh Problems in Stress Urinary Incontinence Surgery

In the 1990s, surgeons began using mesh to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and, in 1996, the FDA approved a mesh specifically for use in treating SUI. This condition, which involves involuntary urination while coughing, sneezing, jumping and performing other routine activities, is known to affect approximately 24% of all women.

More than 80% of SUI surgeries use mesh placed through a vaginal incision. In many cases, the mesh is used as a sling to help provide elevation and support for the urethra. The most common problems include bladder outlet obstruction, pain, and narrow mesh/tape exposure. The FDA plans to develop a report to the public about the use of mesh for USI repair and is currently reviewing the scientific analyses and data on the use of mesh for SUI.

For example, Mersiline, one of the older synthetic mesh brands used to make a sling, has shown to have an 8% erosion rate, requiring surgical removal. Although the use of the Mersiline material has decreased during the past 15 years, studies show that women today are experiencing erosion following surgeries they had 20 years ago that involved the Mersiline mesh.

There are several options for treatment of SUI mesh problems, including surgically removing the mesh and re-sewing the vaginal tissues.

Unfortunately, the SUI symptoms can return once the mesh sling is removed. Studies show that more than one-third of women develop new SUI symptoms after the mesh sling is removed.

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