Vaginal mesh ban ‘a retrograde step’, surgeons say

Banning vaginal mesh implants would remove an important treatment for some women suffering from a prolapse, says the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Some women benefit from the implants and should have a choice, it said.
The health watchdog NICE is expected to recommend that the implants be banned. Around 800 women are taking legal action against the NHS and mesh manufacturers, saying they have suffered from painful complications.
When a prolapse occurs, doctors sometimes insert a mesh into the wall of the vagina to act as scaffolding to support organs – such as the uterus, bowel and bladder – which have fallen out of place. Hundreds of women have reported problems with this plastic mesh, which is made of polypropylene.
Prof Linda Cordozo says banning vaginal mesh is not a good idea.  However another smaller device made from the same material, called a tape, which is used to stem the flow of urine from a leaking bladder, has a much lower risk of complications.
Prof Linda Cardozo, a surgeon at King’s College Hospital in London, said there was a misconception that all types of mesh were a problem. She explained that she was not in favour of banning the use of mesh for prolapses.
“I don’t think a total ban on anything is a good idea. It stifles the opportunity to offer the minority something that might benefit them,” she said.
Draft guidelines from NICE say the implants should only be used for research – and not routine operations.
But Prof Cardozo said that a ban would stop any further research as well.
“If mesh is banned, there will be no more clinical trials,” said the professor.
“Banning it is a retrograde step – we will go back to how we were a century ago when we couldn’t offer women a range of options.”
Prof Cardozo pointed out that artificial hips and knees were not perfect when they were first introduced, but thanks to further research and progress they ended up improving lives.
“We need to be very careful that [mesh] is used in the right women by the right doctors… who have explained the risk-benefit ratio and all other types of treatment,” she added.
Some doctors did not have the skills or training to put in vaginal meshes, and the devices have been overused, the professor has argued.
She also said the debate over vaginal mesh was making some women who had had surgery unnecessarily anxious.
“They are panicking because they believe something terrible may be happening inside their body as a result of tape or mesh, but most women are problem-free,” said Prof Cardozo.