Created from both organic and inorganic materials, surgical mesh (most frequently used to repair hernias) comes in the form of a loosely woven sheet. It may be used for temporary or permanent support of tissues or organs. Surgical mesh also may be used in reconstructive surgery, including a procedure known as transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse repair, usually associated with urinary incontinence.
A temporary mesh is designed to degrade or dissolve over time, whereas the permanent form of the mesh is expected to stay in the body. Different temporary meshes dissolve over different periods of time, lasting months or even years.
Because the organic/inorganic compositions of each type of mesh differ, some are more easily integrated into the body than others. Though the implantation of surgical mesh naturally stimulates an anti-inflammatory response in the body, it may be as minimal as the formation of a type of scar tissue around the mesh, or it can lead to a dangerous chemical response that causes the body to reject the mesh.
In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a notice to the public concerning the potential complications resulting from the use of surgical mesh. Among the documented adverse side effects are:
- Allergic reactions
- Dangerous adhesions
- Injuries to nearby organs, nerves, or blood vessels
In response to FDA concerns, as well as a number of lawsuits, many of the manufacturers of surgical mesh have pulled their products from the market. Beginning in late 2018, the FDA required premarket approval for any mesh to be used for transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse repair. After further investigation, on April 16, 2019, the FDA ordered all makers of transvaginal surgical meshes to immediately stop their sale and distribution.