There are several different types of transvaginal mesh devices available. While many terms are interchangeable, specific differences should be noted. The most common implant types are mesh and vaginal slings. And while the devices are similar, not all have the same medical uses. According to Dr. Marja Sprock of Central Florida Urogynecology Associates, there are various differences between the two devices. In fact, the most notable difference is the size and shape of materials used. Meshes tend to be larger and wider in order to support weakened organs and muscles. According to law firm Seeger Weiss, transvaginal mesh devices often act as a hammock. Vaginal slings, which are smaller in size and shape with limited string, are sometimes called tapes due to their appearance.
Both transvaginal mesh and vaginal slings have individual uses, methods of implantation and complication risks.
Transvaginal mesh devices are more well-known compared to vaginal slings due to ongoing multidistrict litigation. According to Sprock, vaginal mesh is usually implanted to correct large vaginal prolapses, or when the vaginal walls become weakened and cause the vagina to fall from its normal position. Mesh is used to recreate support for the vagina, according to Sprock, so mesh insertion often an invasive, albeit an outpatient, procedure. Because mesh works transvaginally, or along and behind the vagina, the device must be large enough to support the vagina and requires an intrusive procedure, side effects are common with mesh devices. In fact, research from the Department of Gynecology Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine in France found 81% of 104 women tested had severe TVM complications, according to Seeger Weiss. Sprock noted women can experience spotting due to mesh up to three days after surgery.
While mesh treats pelvic organ prolapse (POP), its surgery is more invasive and the device is larger in size as well as shape. Vaginal slings, however, are often implanted to relieve urinary incontinence symptoms. According to Sprock, slings are mostly used to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI), which is when there is a leakage of urine. SUI affects 15%-60% of women, and is often under-diagnosed and underreported. As a result, the condition’s true commonality is hard to determine, says MedScape. SUI is subcategorized in three types:
- I, which is the mildest type of SUI, is when there is urine loss due to a lack of urethral hypermobility
- II, also known as genuine SUI (GSUI), is caused by urethral hypermobility
- III, the most complex form of SUI, is caused by intrinsic sphincter deficiency (ISD)
According to MedScape, vaginal slings treat urinary incontinence by supporting the urethra and bladder. This extra support helps prevent urinary leakage during physical activities. Slings come in various sizes, such as a long rectus sling, a rectus fascia suburethral sling and the fascia lata suburethra sling, to name a few. There are even tension-free vaginal tapes coming into the market. While slings range in size from long, compressed slings to postage stamp-sized, MedScape said slings or tapes are often successful. According to Sprock, research has noted a success rate of 65%-90%. However, the Cleveland Clinic noted bleeding, infection and erosion can still occur from vaginal slings.
What You Can Do
While there are other device differences, patients need to know the two aren’t interchangeable. Sprock said many patients think they have transvaginal mesh to treat urinary incontinence when they mean a vaginal sling, and vice versa. If you were injured by a vaginal sling or transvaginal mesh, get your free case review today. An experienced attorney will contact you to discuss options for getting justice and compensation for your injuries.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.