In the past half century, medical technology has made great strides forward. For women, in particular, the changes have been dramatic. Reproductive health has seen incredible new advancements, the likes of which were never imagined by previous generations.
Our society’s fascination with learning and implementing new ideas, however, has a price. And it can be a steep one. In our haste to solve long-standing medical mysteries, we sometimes settle for the first solution to a particular health problem, when in reality, the side-effects of this new technology can be highly detrimental to our health. In the last decade, transvaginal mesh has made its way to the forefront of medical news, and has recently been the basis of a multitude of products liability lawsuits.
Transvaginal mesh was first introduced in the 1970s and was considered a breakthrough in women’s health technology. The mesh was designed to treat a variety of health conditions associated with weakened pelvic muscles in women. Pelvic muscles are commonly weakened through childbirth, menopause and a hysterectomy (i.e. the removal of the uterus). When pelvic muscles deteriorate, the pelvic organs, including the bladder, rectum and uterus, drop into the vagina and can cause serious reproductive health issues and incontinence.
While transvaginal mesh can be made up of different types of material, the Food and Drug Association has estimated that 91% are made of polypropylene, a type of non-absorbable plastic. The term “transvaginal” refers to the method in which the mesh is placed in the woman’s body: “through” the vagina, rather than a more invasive abdominal surgery. When inserted properly, the mesh acts as a support system and prevents the pelvic organs from falling downward into the vagina.
Beginning in the late 1990s, two types of serious complications began to surface regarding transvaginal mesh. The first of these is called mesh erosion, and it occurs when the mesh erodes or passes through the vaginal wall. This causes bleeding, severe pain, infection and nerve damage. The second type of complication, called mesh organ perforation, occurs when the jagged edges of the plastic netting push through the vaginal walls and into other pelvic organs. Damage to other organs can be extremely severe, and can be long-lasting if left unchecked.
Some side effects of transvaginal mesh may include:
- Recurrence of prolapse or incontinence
- Nerve damage
- Vaginal scarring
- Vaginal shrinkage (scar tissue builds up and “shrinks” the vaginal space, causing pain and discomfort)
- Emotional problems
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Neuro-muscular problems
Many of these injuries require expensive surgery to repair and can take a significant emotional toll on women using transvaginal mesh.
The harmful effects of these small plastic meshes are just now being realized. In 2011, the FDA reported that it had received 4,000 complaints of complications related to transvaginal mesh in the previous six years. In the Southern District of West Virginia alone, more than 40,000 women have filed transvaginal mesh personal injury lawsuits. The defendants named in these lawsuits are primarily major mesh manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, American Medical Systems and Boston Scientific Corporation. Women injured by transvaginal mesh allege that the product is defective, and that instead of helping protect their organs and tissues, the mesh actually harms them.
Thus far, personal injury lawsuits involving transvaginal mesh have managed to garner major damage awards in American courts. Christine Scott and her husband won a jury verdict of $5.5 million against a company called C.R. Bard in 2012. Another woman, Linda Gross, was paid $11.11 million for her injuries sustained by a Johnson & Johnson transvaginal mesh. In sum, more than 40 different mesh products have been identified by the FDA as being unfit for women’s health.
If you or a loved one has been affected or irreparably injured by a transvaginal mesh, please enlist the aid of one of our diligent and specialized Boston, MA injury attorneys. Our team of lawyers has over 20 years of experience in the field of personal injury law, and specializes in transvaginal mesh cases, and will represent you with great pride and skill during this trying time in your life. Call us, 24/7, at 617-787-3700, or email us at email@example.com for your free and confidential consultation. Your needs are our top priority!