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Inova Specialist Treats Debilitating Transvaginal Mesh Complications

ShobeiriAbbas Shobeiri, MD, is board certified in obstetrics & gynecology and female pelvic medicine & reconstructive surgery (urogynecology). He is vice-chair of gynecologic subspecialties at Virginia Commonwealth University Inova Fairfax Campus. He has a special interest in women’s pelvic floor disorders. Read Dr. Shobeiri’s profile.

Transvaginal Mesh Kits: High-Risk Devices

Over the past several years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 1,000 reports of serious complications related to transvaginal mesh kits, devices implanted through the vagina to treat prolapse of the bladder, rectum and uterus. Thousands of women have filed lawsuits against mesh manufacturers, and earlier this year, the FDA reclassified the mesh as a high-risk device.

While we don’t have exact numbers, it’s estimated that as many as hundreds of thousands of women received transvaginal mesh implants before these problems came to light. Now, many are experiencing problems such as erosion of the mesh material, pain and incontinence. Fortunately, we can help them.

shutterstock_229339018Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Vaginal Mesh

Surgical meshes have been used to support weak or damaged tissue in a variety of conditions, such as abdominal hernia. In many cases, they are safe and effective. The problematic meshes are those placed through the vagina (transvaginally) to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

POP is a condition in which the tissues and muscles of the pelvic floor cannot support the pelvic organs. The condition can develop after childbirth, menopause or hysterectomy.

As we now realize, mesh kits placed through the vagina to treat POP can gradually move through the vaginal wall and sometimes into surrounding organs. This can cause urinary and bowel problems, bleeding, infection and pain. Some women who received the mesh started having problems shortly after it was implanted. For others, the debilitating symptoms don’t arise until years later.

Spotting Problem Areas With Ultrasound

Inova Fairfax Hospital is one of a handful of locations in the U.S. where we’re using high-definition 3D ultrasound technology to identify and treat vaginal mesh complications. With ultrasound, we can see exactly where the mesh is located and where it’s causing problems.

The ultrasound images also guide my colleagues and I as we design surgical interventions to treat the debilitating effects of the mesh.

Some of my patients have already had multiple surgeries to remove vaginal mesh, yet they still experience pain and other complications. With our transvaginal 3D ultrasound imaging, we can figure out what’s causing the symptoms. Sometimes, small amounts of mesh are left behind after surgeries that were performed to remove it. In other cases, we identify nerves that have been damaged by the mesh.

We welcome women to come to us for treatment even if they’ve previously been treated for mesh complications. We’re able to plan treatments to alleviate problems and restore the patient’s functioning and quality of life.

High-definition ultrasound has become an extremely valuable tool for treating vaginal mesh complications. But the sooner we treat complications, the better the outcome. I want to get the word out so that afflicted women don’t have to suffer.

Learn more about the nationally recognized Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Inova Women’s Hospital. For clinic appointments, please call 571-419-5645 or read more about Dr. Shobeiri.

11 Comments

  1. Janet on June 10, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you for your efforts to treat transvaginal mesh complications. I admin a support group of over 1,600 people who are injured by mesh implants. We do appreciate your dedication to treating complications from the POP mesh kits, and our members will be interested to note that your facility uses the 3D Ultrasound to detect mesh fragments and mesh placement – previously, only Dr. Raz at UCLA used this technology consistently and with good results.

    I do need to take issue, however, with your statement that the mesh causing problems is only the mesh used in POP mesh kits. A majority of our members actually are severely injured and disabled by the mesh slings used for SUI (stress urinary incontinence.) I myself was left in debilitating pain at the young age of 40 when a mesh SUI sling was implanted for the moderate incontinence I experienced after having 4 pregnancies. The mesh SUI slings are every bit as dangerous and damaging as the POP mesh kits, and even though the FDA has not officially reclassified the SUI mesh to Class III (high risk), they eventually will, it is just a matter of time.

    The problem is the material – the polypropylene. Multiple studies have found that polypropylene is NOT inert in the human body as once thought. It degrades (see today’s article in Legal Reader that explains how Ethicon scientists warned years ago that mesh degrades, but Ethicon misled doctors about the safety of the mesh products.) It erodes through sensitive tissue, nerves, and organs in the pelvis. It doesn’t matter if it is a POP mesh kit or an SUI mesh sling – if you talk to patients actually living this nightmare, the products are equally damaging and debilitating.

    The problem is, no one ever talks to the patients. No studies were done prior to these products being “cleared” (not approved. They are not approved. They are simply ‘cleared’ by the FDA’s flawed 510k process that allows a device to slip through the cracks if it is similar to a previous device…but that’s a comment for another day.)

    And there is no follow up with patients afterwards to truly track how they are doing with any of these mesh products. No mandatory reporting of complications. Basically, they just implant this plastic mesh into our most sensitive areas of the body, knowing it will erode and degrade, knowing hundreds of thousands of women will be devastated – and no one is doing anything about it.

    We will certainly pass along to our 1,600 members that your medical facility now uses the 3D Ultrasound to diagnose mesh issues, and thank you for giving us another option. Please consider the fact that as far as patients are concerned, SUI mesh slings are every bit as dangerous and damaging as the POP mesh kits. We as patients have had to become mesh “experts” and educate ourselves about every aspect of mesh complications, because the people who should have protected us failed to do so.

    Our public Facebook group, Mesh Problems, welcomes not only mesh injured people and their families/friends, but also doctors, nurses, physical therapists, medical professionals of any kind – we are happy to share everything we have learned about mesh with anyone interested in learning more.

  2. Renee on June 10, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I had Hernia Repair and my mesh was infected and had multiple surgeries and had to have it removed, but I still have sever pain in my abdomen and I believe if the 3d should be able to detect it would be a plus for us all

  3. Nonie on June 11, 2016 at 3:00 am

    It is wonderful to find another resource for mesh harmed women,especially when that resource is offering the benefits of high definition ultrasound to locate mesh migration into other organs. I administer a mesh information Facebook page that helps women find skilled help to diagnose mesh complications accurately, which seems problematic for physicians reluctant to admit that too many doctors jumped on the bandwagon and used mesh before its safety was verified, and time tested. What is very alarming is that doctors are still thinking mesh is a safe product for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) repairs. It absolutely is not any safer to use for SUI than it is for POP.There are twice as many women with mesh complications that were treated for SUI, than women with mesh complications from prolapse repairs with mesh. The FDA has failed to protect women again. The only difference is the amount of mesh used in the respective repairs. The mesh degrades the same , erodes the same, extrudes the same, has the same adjuvant effect that makes our immune systems “hysterical” so that our immune systems begin to attack self. The rate of autoimmune diseases among our mesh complications groups is higher than the general population. Chronic foreign body reaction (FBR) to mesh for SUI is just as damaging as chronic FBR to mesh for POP.. It is the same mesh with the same propensity to develop biofilms harboring infections that quickly become treatment resistant. Chronic infections plague many of our members in our support groups.

  4. Susan on June 11, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Aloha,
    I have Atrium Medical’s Pro Loop Hernia Mesh and Plug Polypropylene Mesh in me. I have been in Ever Increasing pain since 2010! I know of others. I have had SO many scans and x-rays. You can even see and feel parts of the mesh under my skin. It is as if the mesh will be popping out of my skin soon. I live on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Hilo area. I pray that I can get some relief. No pain meds. work, or injections.

  5. Lucille on June 11, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    I have had my life destroyed from TVT MESH for incontinence for over 11 years, I have lost my good health, a spouse, income and the list goes on from MESH used for SUI. ALL kinds of these MESH products need to be taken off the market forever as its damaged too many lives from the profits of these big pharma companies. Someone needs to be accountable for the irriversable damage of health that has been done to soon many. All hopes of growing old and healthy are gone because of greed and a bad decision I made from listening to a doctor who themselves did not fully know what this TOXIC device does to the human body!!

  6. Anne on June 11, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    My daughter had the mesh placed during an abdominal surgery. It has destroyed her health. She finally found a great doctor to remove it. She is slowly recovering but will never be completely the same again. I sincerely wish that the original doctor who placed that horrible product in my daughter suffers as many if not more health issues for the rest of his life.

  7. S. A. Shobeiri on June 23, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you for your posts. Please remember that this site purely deals with vaginal mesh. For more on 3D multicompartmental ultrasonography: https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Pelvic-Floor-Ultrasonography-Multicompartmental/dp/1461484251
    We evaluate patients from all over the US and the oversees and aim to help them in an evidence based impartial manner. Please feel free to visit my site at http://www.urogynecologist.com

  8. SA Shobeiri on June 23, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for visiting this blog. Please remember the blog only addresses VAGINAL MESH. We approach the issue in an evidence based impartial manner.
    For appointments or more information about my workshops on 3D multicompartmental ultrasonography please visit: http://www.urogynecologist.com
    We evaluate patients from all across 50 United States and the overseas.
    Another resource is at https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Pelvic-Floor-Ultrasonography-Multicompartmental/dp/1461484251 but we are currently working on the second edition of the book for early 2017.

  9. Deb on July 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Hello. So glad to hear of another resource to those suffering from mesh complications. Especially one on the East coast that has experience with diagnostic equipment to “see” the mesh. THANK YOU! I hope you will be able to help many women.
    I am from upstate NY, and traveled all the way to UCLA in 2013 for full mesh removal. They were one of the only ones I could find that said they could remove the mesh from my groin area completely, and that were doing translabial ultrasounds to “see” the mesh that most docs said could not be seen. In fact, local experts told me it was “impossible” to remove my mesh sling, which was basically crippling me. This sling for was for SUI, not POP… and, I did not have a mesh kit. Just the sling. I have since started a blog (www.meshmenot.com), and NY support group for others injured by mesh. Consequently I have met many MANY others who are having serious complications from all kinds of mesh – NOT just the POP kits… and not just “recalled” mesh. People need to understand the full risks of all mesh – and currently, that is not being properly explained to most. Especially, if being treated for SUI.

  10. Ann on August 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I’m so happy to find a doctor who deals with this awful mesh problem. After 4 mesh surgeries and finally removal of it, I still have terrible pain problems. Now in my 10th year of post problems from this trauma. I now have some hope with Dr. Shobeiri. I am looking forward to my appointment with him shortly.

  11. Collena on April 7, 2017 at 7:10 am

    I have had a mesh implanted since 10/2011. Have serious issues with it. Especially after having what they call a revision surgery in 5/2013. It was suppose to be taking it out but instead made a lot more complicated issues arise. All I want is to find a doctor who will help me so that I will be able to get my life back into some semblance of a normal life so I can help others in any way that I can be of service. I am calling the doctors office today and pray that this will work out for me.

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