By Christina Morales, Editor-in-Chief
Periscope News Group
July 26, 2018
Ireland is now the most recent country to halt the use of transvaginal mesh (TVM). Health Minister Simon Harris just announced that his department’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has requested that the Health Service Executive (HSE) – the agency that provides health and personal social services for the citizens of Ireland – pause use of this dangerous medical device. This order is in effect until future notice.
TVM is used in women who are struggling with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) or pelvic organ prolapse (POP). TVM is a screen-like material made out of polypropylene that is supposed to hold the organs in place. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of women around the world have had terrible complications associated with this high-risk product. The mesh can erode and break apart in the body therefore creating sharp shards that may potentially migrate, slice organs and tissue, and cause other life-altering injuries. While removing it seems like the obvious solution to this problem, it’s just not that simple. Tissue can grow in around this device making it impossible to take out. While many doctors may be able to insert TVM into the vagina, very few doctors worldwide have the skill or training to completely remove it.
“There is understandable public and patient anxiety about the ongoing safety of mesh devices following the considerable publicity that this issue has received and this has been heightened by recent developments in the NHS,” stated Minister Harris. “It is important that this be addressed as comprehensively as possible. A pause on the use of mesh procedures, pending confirmation by the Executive that the key recommendations below have been implemented, is now considered proportionate and necessary to provide public assurance that these procedures are being carried out in accordance with internationally accepted good practice.”
The time period for this pause of TVM surgery in Ireland is yet unknown, but it’s said to be in place until further information can be gathered by the HSE to determine safer practices involving mesh. Currently TVM is banned in Australia and New Zealand and it was recently suspended in the UK until the risks versus the benefits can be fully explored. However, TVM is still legal and commonly used in the United States. It’s time for the FDA to follow suit and either ban TVM or at least suspend its use to collect accurate data on its safety in women. If other countries are halting the use of this harmful device, why isn’t the U.S. protecting us?