In all realms of medicine, advancement in patient care is a learning process, with the ultimate goal being better patient care. New technologies abound, and scientists and physicians are often at the cutting edge to adapt these technologies to patients through experiments in the labs and trials in the real world. However, new technology comes with responsibility, and proper patient counseling prior to any procedure helps to define the risks and benefits of all surgeries, including those involved in mesh repair of hernia throughout the body.
Mesh is a common and safe synthetic product that can be surgically placed in many areas throughout the body to reinforce a hernia or defect that occurs over time or as a result of injury. The classic example is a groin or inguinal hernia in a man. It is painful and can occur in 10 percent of men, usually after repetitive straining. A mesh patch or plug is placed through a small incision and reinforces the weak tissue and significantly reduces recurrence rates. It has been widely adopted by general surgeons over the last two decades.
Repairing or lifting dropped pelvic organs have been common surgeries in women. The most common is the bladder (cystocele), but the uterus, small intestine or rectum can also drop and push out the vagina. It can be painful and lead to urinary and defecatory problems, pain with sex and other issues. Many surgeries have been devised to “lift” the bladder, but unfortunately, recurrence rates for cystocele repair is quite high, approximately 30 percent at four years. It is the most common organ to drop after hysterectomy. Naturally, mesh has been considered to reinforce these repairs to reduce recurrence rates and prevent an unnecessary second, and even third, operation.
Many types of mesh exist, and not all mesh are created equal, nor appropriate for the vagina. Some mesh are synthetic and others are biological, from human or animal.