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Sling the mesh

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Sling the Mesh, mesh implants, incontinence, prolapse, tension free vaginal tape,Women are calling for an operation with life-changing risks to be suspended.

Campaigners are calling for an operation using mesh implants with unacceptable risks to be stopped.

The implants are also known as tension free vaginal tape or mesh reinforcement

Campaigners are also calling for the government to tighten up legislation on passing medical devices for use in surgery; and for a national register to track mesh problems – and in the meantime for life changing risks to be properly explained to patients before they consent, as per Montgomery Ruling guidelines.

Local newspaper journalist Kath Sansom had the mesh implant operation on the NHS in 2015; it left her with searing leg and groin pain.

After three weeks of sleepless nights in agony, a Google search revealed she was not alone; thousands globally are suffering. The latest country to introduce vaginal mesh implants is India.

Angry at realising she was unwittingly involved in a massive women’s medical disaster, Samson set up the ‘Sling The Mesh’ campaign.

It was officially launched 10 weeks after her operation. The Facebook group now has more than 1,600 members – and there are many other groups around the world.

The aim is to raise awareness of the risks of this 20-minute, day case operation.

In the UK alone, the tape devices, made of mesh, to fix incontinence, have been given to more than 100,000 women in the last 10 years.

Mesh implants are used to fix incontinence or prolapse, often caused by natural childbirth.

High impact training, which puts pressure on the pelvic floor, can also trigger problems; incontinence is a common problem for high performing athletes.

And some women suffer from the distressing condition of incontinence or prolapse due to joint hypermobility syndrome, others for no apparent reason, from a young age.

Sansom said: “There are women in wheelchairs or walking with sticks because of this operation. Others with life-altering chronic pain, are on cocktails of high dose medication.

“Many can no longer work, marriages have broken down and all for a 20-minute, day case operation that was supposed to improve their quality of life.

“At least half the women in my campaign have lost their sex lives where the mesh has either cut into or inflamed their sensitive tissue. It becomes too painful to try to have personal relationships.

“Women say they feel as if they have been sexually neutered.”

Sansom, whose girls are 14 and 20, decided to have a TVT mesh bladder sling after suffering what many mums are left with after childbirth – mild stress urinary incontinence. She was told it was a minimally invasive, relatively low risk operation that would take less than half an hour.

“Overnight I went from a super fit mum of teenagers who did boxing training twice a week, high board diving, swimming, mountain biking and dancing at gigs, to a physical wreck who could just about walk my dog round the park.”

For the incontinence operation a surgeon implants a mesh tape sling.

It is known as a TVT, or TVTO, which stands for tension free vaginal tape; it can also be called a transvaginal mesh (TVM) or a mid-urethral sling (MUS).

It is inserted ‘blindly’ using a set of hooks known as trocars.

For pelvic organ prolapse, surgeons insert a patch of mesh with arm-like pieces to attach it inside a woman’s body. Again, using hooks.

In both cases, vaginal mesh implants are the only type of surgery performed “blind”. Other operations are performed open where a surgeon can see what they are doing, or using keyhole techniques and a camera to guide them.

Traditional surgical fixes for incontinence take up to four hours followed by three to four nights in hospital.

One is called the Burch colposuspension, which is like a hitch and stitch, the other is an autologous sling, which uses muscle from the stomach wall to make a natural sling.

The mesh operations take 20 minutes as a day case procedure – so the money-saving motivation of mesh is real.

Campaigning by Scottish mums Olive McIlroy and Elaine Holmes, along with journalist Marion Scott, led to former Scottish Health Minister Alex Neill calling for a suspension of mesh implants in June 2014.

However, after a three year review, a final report was released on 27 March 2017, which said the suspension was lifted because, it claimed, the implants were safe to use under guidance.

The review’s chairman, a clinician and two patient representatves resigned amid whitewash claims.

A whole chapter on risks of this operation was omitted.

No information was included on how the plastic polypropylene material can shrink, twist or degrade and leach toxins.

No mention was made of how prolapse mesh has been upgraded to a higher risk device in America nor a report included by the FDA – America’s health watchdog body – which says the trocars (hooks) to implant the mesh can cause injuries for up to 40 per cent of women having prolapse mesh or 30 per cent of women having mesh for incontinence. To read the report click here.

No mention was made in the Scottish Independent Review that this is the ONLY surgery performed blind. The plastic mesh tape sling is inserted by guesswork, a bit like touch typing.

There was no mention in the review that the plastic is inserted through the vagina. That means an area of good bacteria is invaded by a foreign body – a piece of plastic – where it can harbour bacteria causing lifelong urinary infections.

And the review did not explain the statistics used in a report published in the Lancet in 2016.

The report claims mesh is low risk, but it uses Hospital Episode Statistics, known as HES data.

If a woman presents with a mesh complication to her GP but does not go to hospital for it then she is not included in the HES data. Women given antibiotics for constant water infections or given high doses of pain killers but not referred to hospital, for example, will not be included in the HES.

That means the figures of risk will be vastly under reported. To read what campaigners call ‘the flawed study’ click here.

Sansom’s campaign was launched in 2015, but the problem is global.

In America: Dr Raz explains why he will not use mesh implants; Australia: Senator Derryn Hinch backs campaigners who are calling for the surgery to stop; Belgium: women have joined forces to fight mesh implants; Canada: campaigners are desperate for their voices to be head amid a backdrop of legal cases suing for being maimed; Denmark: doctors advised to call in Danish women who received synthetic mesh implants; Finland: women have a Facebook support group; Israel: the legal cases are ongoing in Israel; New Zealand: one of many women suffering after a mesh implant is speakig out.

In Northern Ireland women are fighting to be transferred to England for mesh removal with a specialist who can remove mesh implants if they have complications because nobody in Ireland can do it. So far nobody is listening to them.

But the eyes of the world are on Scotland where campaigners are now looking into launching a legal challenge.

Follow Sling The Mesh on Facebook and Twitter.

  1. Patricia says:

    I’m aged 68 and have been suffering with incontinance for 45yrs after a 10lb 3 oz baby . No one really took me seriously until last week after searching many Drs & clinics have every test and all kinds of drugs to fix this very Dibilitating problem , now at last I have been offered a mesh sling procedure . I was so happy thinking this was a prayer answered at long last…. Until I happened to start reading about all the negative press reports Darren Hinch is trying to have this procedure banned here in Australia . He has a very strong chance . I’m just so torn between what I should do??

  2. My prolapse operation took place December 2012.
    The doctor didn’t talk me through what would happen and I didn’t ask.
    Since my early 20s I have suffered from Endometriosis and my ovaries where removed when 27yrs of age.
    At the age of 33 severe back problem put me in hospital for 3 months, (9 of those weeks on traction).
    At 43, a hysterectomy, removed my womb and cut endometriosis off my bowel.
    Prolapse front and back proved a problem and a ring was inserted; this caused severe pain down my thigh and groin. They removed it straight away…
    2012 I was offered a prolapse operation, because of the afore mentioned, (they pinned it all to my back tendons); since then, I have suffered a sharp stabbing in my groin, this happens quite regularly, causing me to cry out in an involuntary movement.
    Plus, my feet and legs hurt and it is becoming more and more painful to hold myself upright and to walk. Is this all related…

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