Pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse (when muscles and ligaments weaken and pelvic organs slip out of place) or stress urinary incontinence (common amongst women young and old, especially after childbirth) are distressing and serious health issues. Although no longer deemed safe by the New Zealand Ministry of Health to treat prolapse, transvaginal mesh, commonly known as a TVT sling, can still be beneficial for many women with incontinence. Recently there has been a lot of information and controversy in the media and online about the use of mesh so we’d like to take the opportunity to discuss our view on this treatment.
What is Transvaginal Mesh?
The TVT sling is a medical device made of net-like material (usually made of synthetic polypropylene). It is surgically implanted to provide extra support when repairing weakened or damaged tissue.
What’s the controversy about Transvaginal Mesh?
Some controversy has arisen from reports of women experiencing frequent urinary tract infections, erosion or pain, as a result of mesh complications. There is even a class action lawsuit currently happening in Australia that concerns the use of mesh for incontinence in women, and there have been several in the USA too. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has recently released a statement supporting its continued use.
So, is Transvaginal Mesh it safe or not?
Mesh surgery, such as the TVT sling for incontinence, has had successful results for hundreds of
thousands of women around the world, but as there can be with any surgery, there have been a small number of women affected by complications.
One of the key factors in having successful TVT surgery is engaging a surgeon with significant experience in the procedure. Not doing this may have been the case with patients across the world who have had such complications. Our three urologists that perform these surgeries, Giovanni Losco, Sharon English and Jane MacDonald, have all had international training in incontinence procedures and have patients experiencing complications referred to them for corrective surgery or mesh removal. This is sometimes funded by ACC and is a testament to the vast expertise that we have with mesh surgeries.
Are their alternatives to Transvaginal Mesh?
When done correctly, the enormous majority of women will enjoy a vastly improved quality of life and independence. However, if you prefer not to have mesh surgery, Urology Associates are the only group in the South Island to offer mesh-free surgery for incontinence, using your own natural body tissue. This has a slightly longer recovery time but completely avoids the risks of mesh infection, erosion and pain that can sometimes accompany mesh surgery.
For the treatment of prolapse, we categorically do not support the use of transvaginal mesh and offer safer alternatives instead. If you have been recommended transvaginal mesh for prolapse we strongly encourage you to seek a second opinion.
Why choose Urology Associates?
Women's' needs are unique and specialised. If a bladder or pelvic condition is holding you back, we can help you regain confidence and get on with life. We specialise in female urology, providing a high level of expert and compassionate care to help you regain confidence and peace of mind.
Our highly skilled consultants provide both surgical and non-surgical treatments and have access to state of the art equipment for laser and robotic surgery. Contact us today to discuss your treatment options.