Transvaginal and Hernia Mesh Still Used Today – What You Should Ask?

//Transvaginal and Hernia Mesh Still Used Today – What You Should Ask?

Transvaginal and Hernia Mesh Still Used Today – What You Should Ask?

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, June 5, 2018 ~ Your editor of Mesh News Desk is hearing from newly mesh-implanted women who are being told the same thing. (Talking points carefully crafted by public relations professionals?)  That is – this is a “New Mesh”  not the same mesh you’ve heard  about in the lawsuits.    That ultimately is the only way to “sell” a product or to continue selling mesh use on the public as a first line defense against incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.  But is it true?

Image: Creative Commons, Serena Wong


By now, most people have heard that there are a high number of product liability lawsuits filed against mesh manufacturers.  Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon division, Boston Scientific, C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Coloplast, Cook Medical and Neomedic are the focus of more than 104,000 cases filed in one federal court in West Virginia.  And the verdicts have been generally favorable to the plaintiff, ranging from $1 million to $100 million.

A recent 60 Minutes story on Boston Scientific and its shady methods to secure new raw polypropylene put a dark stain on the company and caused industry-wide reaction. Generally that comes in the form of hiring public relations professionals to “craft” a new narrative and issue “Talking Points” to quiet the public concerns.

Though MND has not yet seen those talking points (please sent them) this is the MO of corporate crisis counseling. Regardless, women are reporting they are being told that the mesh today is “New Mesh” and not that same stuff the lawsuits are about.

There have been too many report to disregard this as random narrative and not corporate re-branding.  So if you have stress urinary incontinence(SUI), urge incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or a hernia, and your doctor is suggesting mesh:


While its true the major mesh manufacturers are playing around with the weight of the mesh and the pore size, basically most mesh is still made of polypropylene (PP) a cheap plastic woven from raw PP resin.  So some suggested questions you might want to ask your doctor. Make sure he/she answers the questions:

  • What is the mesh you use made of? (Answer: polypropylene, biologic or composite or coated is what’s on the market. Even biologic ( pig, cow or cadaver) or coated generally merge with a PP base. If your doc says its “Marlex”  or Prolene”  or Gynemesh, it’s all polypropylene!  Make sure they don’t pull that one on you. )
  • How is it new?  (Answer: He/She may say its entirely different, get an answer – How is it new? Your doctor may be following the guidance of medical societies that favor using mesh as a first-line defense.)
  • Is it polypropylene?  (Answer: Pay attention to this answer. Your medical provider may not even know, though he/she should know. PP is a polymer plastic sourced from the petroleum industry. It is also used for Tic Tac box tops and indoor outdoor carpet).
  • What is the brand name of the product you use?  Who makes it?  How long have you been using it?  (Answer: See how honest and up front the provider is).
  • Are there any alternatives to using mesh? (Answer: Unless you have had a mesh repair previously and it has failed, unless you are obese and a smoker, there are generally alternatives to starting off with a mesh repair.  We’ve learned from litigation that it may not be the best choice for a first line defense against SUI and POP).
  • Am I a candidate for a non-mesh repair and can you do one?  (Answer: This is important. Many newer doctors have not been trained in doing anything but using mesh to treat SUI and POP.  Ask if they can do a suture only repair).
  • Can you do a native tissue repair?  (Answer: This involves harvesting fascia from your body and using it as a “sling” so your body does not reject it.  This also involves more surgical skill and takes longer and ultimately may not be as profitable for your provider as a 20 minute sling procedure.   If your doctor cannot do this type of repair, why not? Isn’t going conservatively the best way to start? Does he understand the most experienced docs are not using mesh for slings?)
  • How many native tissue repairs have you done? (Answer: Will you become an experiment? You want to chose a provider who understands this method).
  • If needed, can you remove my mesh if it causes complications? (Answer: Pay careful attention here, even the best doctors have trouble removing the arms or anchors that are punctured deep into ligaments, leaving behind lasting pain potentially.  If a doctor says he can, ask “How do you know?”)
  • What is your relationship with the mesh manufacturer? (Answer:  Look up Dollars for Doctors prior to your appointment.  A database from ProPublica, it has documented the financial relationship between doctors and the manufacturers and might be one factor you want to consider.  Can a doctor who has received $1 million from Ethicon be providing unbiased information about Ethicon mesh?  You decide.)

Creative Commons

If your doctor hasn’t thrown you out of the office by now, you may have found a good one who is willing to have a true informed consent.   Good for you for becoming an informed consumer!


Dollars for Doctors, ProPublica Database 

Mesh News Desk, January 2017, Polyproylene Resin Not Meant for Human Implants

Mesh News Desk, September 2016, AUGS Defends Polypropylene Mid-Urethral Mesh Slings

Mesh News Desk, April 2016, Dr. Raz Tells Docs Why He will Not Use Synthetic Mesh Slings

Mesh News Desk, July 2016, Questions to Ask Your Pelvic Mesh Removal Doctor 

Mesh News Desk, August 2015. Dr. Walker Answers Your Questions About Pelvic Mesh Injury

Mesh News Desk, September 2017, Dr. Bendavid Answers Hernia Questions 

Mesh News Desk, July 2016, What You May Want to know About Your Doctor’s Conflicts of Interest

By | 2018-06-06T14:11:18+00:00 June 5th, 2018|Op-Ed|5 Comments

About the Author:

I’m National News Editor, Jane Akre and I began Mesh Medical Device News Desk aka Mesh News Desk (MND) in the summer of 2011 just after the Food and Drug Administration issued an explicit warning to the public that complications associated with surgical mesh used for prolapse repair (POP) and incontinence (SUI) are NOT rare! That was the starting point for the litigation you see today and thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women whose lives have been altered, some permanently, by the use of this petroleum-based product.


  1. Doris June 5, 2018 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Too little too late mine was put in 2003 so it goes back farther than they will admit.The hospital had a waiting list for removal.I waited 10months.They us in hallways lined up waiting to go into surgery. that day.

  2. Blindsided June 10, 2018 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Jane, this advise is all great! It should be posted in every magazine and urologist/GYN’s office. The biggest problem with doctor patient discussions is the lack of documentation that it ever happened. In the end it’s just a patients word against a physician’s. And now with all the computer generated check list for liability reasons many things get checked done and really aren’t. We want to believe all physicians have integrity and the patients best interest however the medical community is known to be fast pace and with a very high rate of medical errors. It shoukd be mandatory to give a patient prior to implant a product implant sheet with complete info including material, additves, warnings, body compatibility, updated true complication rates with clear understanding of how it’s implanted and last but not least available treatment when it goes bad. This should be discussed then given time to read and review before signing. Separate from surgical consents cause these are usually done last minute and without the physician present. As we discussed earlier, also a post implant card to keep and carry with tracking info. Our knowledge of what is being done to our bodies is important and our rights: Sadly we can’t trust others are putting our best interest first.

    • Jane Akre June 10, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. Take with you the list of questions, even submit them to the doctor… get it in writing and NEVER have your consult as you are on the gurney ready to go into surgery!!! Allow a few days for it all to sink in and for you to understand what you heard from the doc. Just my opinion. Thank you.

  3. Still Standing June 12, 2018 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    You should also request a pre surgery consult with your anesthetist. They are putting you under and I think the run in and sign this paper lets go is crazy. They do this with very limited information about you at all, yet they hold your life in their hands durng that surgery. Your insurance and medicare will pay for a face to face consultation , so insist on it, too. You have a rght to have a say about the drugs that they are going to use to make you unconscious.

  4. Blindsided June 13, 2018 at 11:13 am - Reply

    All very wise suggestions. People have to be educated on their rights. Thank you!

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