Mesh implant became broken, twisted, and embedded in woman's muscle
PUBLISHED: 10:12 09 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:52 09 October 2018
A Norfolk woman whose vaginal mesh had broken, twisted, and become embedded deep into a muscle said she wished she never had the procedure.
It comes as health officials said vaginal mesh should only be offered to women who have explored all other possible options.
A new draft guideline from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) states that those who suffer from stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse should be offered a full range of non-surgical options before an operation is considered.
But for Lorraine Lodge, from Great Yarmouth, the guidance comes too late as her mesh - known as a TVTO - was fitted at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston in 2015.
The mesh scandal has seen thousands of women complain of being left in constant pain after having the implants, which have been offered to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth.
In July, a “pause” was put in place on some mesh procedures in England until certain conditions are met - including the publication of Nice guidelines on the use of mesh for stress urinary incontinence.
Ms Lodge, 52, has just had her mesh removed at University College London Hospital.
Speaking from her hospital bed she said: “It had broken in three places, it was twisted, it was embedded deep into a muscle – and had apparently been put in too tight in the first place.
“Now all of the mesh has gone, I already feel so much better. Even though I’ve had serious surgery, the pains in my hips have gone and it isn’t painful to lay down any more.
“I know it’s going to take time to recover but this is a start, a very good start. If I’d have known about the complications, I would never have said ‘yes’ to a pelvic mesh implant.”
Before having the mesh fitted, Ms Lodge worked as a community carer, went to the gym, and had a reputation of being the first on the dance floor on a night out.
She had mild incontinence, which she understood would be fixed by the mesh procedure.
But she said as soon as she came around from surgery something was not right.
She said: “I was having problems from the word ‘go’ with horrible pains in my legs and groin. Initially, I was told it was from the way my legs were positioned during the surgery.
“It felt as though my legs were being stung with stinging nettles, a similar sensation to pins and needles. Over time, it got worse and my health deteriorated.”
In October last year her legs gave way at work. Since, she has been housebound and can only get out with a mobility scooter.
Ms Lodge realised others were suffering complications after watching a documentary about mesh on the television last year.
She joined the Sling the Mesh Facebook group, and met others going through a similar ordeal. Later, she set up a local Norfolk and Suffolk meshies branch.
At the moment, there are 41 members who support one another and arrange get-togethers.
A government tour of the UK to speak to women experiencing complications from pelvic mesh implants will be in Cambridge on Monday, October 15 in the afternoon
And Ms Lodge is encouraging women from Norfolk to go and even arranging transport.
She said: “We need to get the word out there that all mesh - hernia, pelvic and rectopexy – is bad and the stuff is completely ruining people’s lives. Not just patients, their families and loved ones as well.
“We also need to meet others who are experiencing complications, and let them know they are not alone. “
The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review hearing for pelvic mesh implants is being held in at the Homerton Conference Centre between 1pm and 3pm.
Travel expenses can be reimbursed as part of the review, which family members and loved ones may also attend. Participants will need to submit all travel receipts, with economy or standard class used on public transport whenever possible.
Those unable to attend can email their experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org. A free counselling service is also available for anyone who needs support as a result of participating in the review.
Kath Sansom, of the Sling The Mesh campaign group and a journalist from March, said: “The pain this procedure can cause is indescribable.
“I’ve been in contact with women who are suffering serious complications from pelvic mesh implants. This procedure was promoted as a quick fix for urinary stress incontinence and prolapse – but the plastic can twist, shrink, go brittle and degrade inside the body.
“It can attach and slice through organs causing chronic pain, sepsis, loss of sex life and for some women they need to have their bladder or bowel removed. Women contact our group daily feeling suicidal from the pain pelvic mesh implants have caused them.”
Today The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued its latest draft guideline on the management of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women, with formal guidance expected in April next year.
The draft document states that women should try a range of techniques before mesh is even considered.
The non-surgical options for urinary incontinence include lifestyle interventions including caffeine reduction, modifying fluid intake and weight loss; physical therapies such as pelvic floor muscle training; behavioural therapies such as bladder training programmes; or medication.
Non-surgical options for pelvic organ prolapse include lifestyle modifications including avoiding heavy lifting and preventing constipation, pelvic floor muscle training and pessary management, Nice said.
The draft guideline states that surgical interventions using surgical mesh/tape should only be considered when non-surgical options have failed or are not possible.
Meanwhile a national database should be set up to record all procedures involving the use of surgical mesh/tape in operations for stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, NICE added.
Ms Sansom, who also had the mesh implant in March 2015, but since has had it removed due to the complications, said: “These draft guidelines are to be welcomed but they do not go far enough.
“Our ideal scenario is to see pelvic mesh stopped. Full stop. The risks are too great. It is totally unacceptable that women come out of a ‘simple little operation’ with shattered lives.
“One in seven have lost their marriages because of mesh. One in seven have lost their sex life. Eight out of 10 suffer pain so great it affects their daily life. More than half suffer ongoing urinary infections. Unsurprisingly many are suicidal and six in 10 are on anti-depressants.”