Feature

Side effects from transvaginal mesh: How GPs can help


Amanda Lyons 4/12/2017 1:23:46 PM

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently banned the use of transvaginal mesh products for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse.

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Reported side effects from the use of transvaginal mesh products included incontinence and severe chronic pain.

Hundreds of Australian women over the past decade reported serious pain and side effects from the use of transvaginal mesh products, including incontinence, severe chronic pain and even trouble walking. This resulted in a major Senate inquiry in Federal Parliament, as well as a class action against the product manufacturers, Johnson and Johnson.
 
The TGA’s decision to ban the use of transvaginal mesh products has been welcomed by many in the healthcare community.
 
‘The withdrawal of mesh in this area of surgery is a positive step towards aiming to protect women from irreversible long-term postoperative harm,’ Dr Magdalena Simonis, RACGP representative to the Senate inquiry into transvaginal mesh implants, told newsGP.
 
According to Dr Simonis, one of the main messages for GPs in the wake of the decision is to consider the possibility of transvaginal mesh implants when managing women who present with pelvic pain.
 
‘The presence of surgical mesh needs to be one of the differential diagnoses and one of the questions we ask in presentations of pelvic pain,’ she said. ‘If we know that women have had surgery, we need to inquire about their quality of life post-surgically.’
 
It is also important for GPs to remember that the personal and sensitive nature of pelvic pain – and its associated health issues – may make it difficult for women to discuss.
 
‘When a woman presents with incontinence or pelvic pain, they’re not easy things to talk about,’ Dr Simonis said. ‘Their pelvic pain might also be associated with stress or urge urinary incontinence. And many of these women will have such severe pain that they can’t have sexual relations, so it impacts their relationships.’
 
One of the key issues revealed by the Senate inquiry was that many women who experienced severe side effects from transvaginal mesh implants found it difficult to have their symptoms properly addressed by practitioners.
 
‘Some women have complained that they were not examined when, in some cases, the mesh had actually eroded through their tissue,’ Dr Simonis said.
 
Dr Simonis believes that GPs are in an important position to offer women the help they need by listening, asking detailed questions and performing physical examinations.


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pelvic-organ-prolapseTherapeutic-Goods-Administrationtransvaginal-mesh-products

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