A bladder sling, sometimes referred to as transvaginal mesh, is meant to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in women. Made of two strips of surgical mesh, a bladder sling is meant to support the bladder neck and urethra.
SUI, which occurs in women, is the involuntary loss of urine caused by physical activities, such as sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy weights. Pressure during pregnancy and childbirth can also contribute to SUI. Health experts say this condition occurs because the urethra (the tube that carries urine) is only about two inches in length in women - versus ten inches in men.
To create a bladder sling, a surgeon uses a strip of tissue or mesh to create a pelvic hammock around the bladder neck and urethra to ensure they stay closed during normal everyday activities.
When successful, a bladder sling procedure can dramatically improve a patient's life. However, far too frequently these procedures lead to horrible complications that have made patients wish they never made the decision to correct SUI with a bladder sling.
Even though a bladder sling is meant to help women with SUI, too many women have found the exact opposite to be true. Thousands of women have reported infection, tissue erosion, and other serious side effects.
In 2011, the FDA announced it had received almost 4,000 complaints of injury, death, or malfunction associated with bladder sling procedures performed between 2005 and 2010. The agency concluded that complications from bladder sling procedures "are not rare" and that they do not necessarily improve the quality of life for patients over other standard surgeries.
While there are several potential complications to bladder sling procedures, the two most serious issues are erosion and organ perforation. Erosion of mesh through the vaginal wall often requires multiple surgeries to repair, and there are no guarantees that the fix will be successful.
Erosion is a process in which the mesh wears through a woman's soft internal tissues. Erosion is often very painful and it can lead to exposure - in which the mesh can be seen externally.
The FDA's own website lists erosion of mesh slings through the vagina as the "most commonly reported mesh-specific complication from SUI surgeries." They report the rate of erosion at approximately 2% per year.
Organ perforation refers to an instance when the mesh penetrates the wall of a hollow organ in the body. In the case of bladder slings, this can mean the bladder, urethra, bowel or rectum.
Perforation almost always requires surgery, and it may require mesh removal, bowel resection, colostomy, and blood transfusions. Perforated organs can also cause urine or waste to leak into the bloodstream, which can cause septic shock or fatal complications.
In addition to erosion and organ perforation, there are almost a dozen other potential complications to bladder sling procedures. These other complications include:
Since bladder sing issues were brought to the attention of the FDA in 2011, over 70,000 women have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of bladder slings. These lawsuits seek compensation for injuries suffered as a result of bladder slings, and claim that manufacturers' failed to research the potential complications, nor did they adequately warn consumers about the risks of bladder sling procedures.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a bladder sling, then you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Now is the time to join one of the many lawsuits against the manufacturers of these harmful devices.
It is in your best interests to contact a bladder sling lawyer to speak to someone about you, or your loved one's injuries. Many lawyers offer completely free consultations at no cost or obligation to you. You can use your consultation to determine whether or not you are eligible for compensation for your injuries, and you can rightfully get what you are owed for your pain and suffering as a result of a bladder sling.