Mesh implants deemed ‘unnecessary risk’

Mesh implant operations were banned in Scotland in June 2014.

Mesh implant operations were banned in Scotland in June 2014.

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Controversial vaginal mesh and graft implants have been described as “an unnecessary risk” as a major study found the techniques were no more effective than standard treatment for incontinence and female prolapse.

Mesh implants operations were suspended in Scotland in 2014 due to concern over complications, which left women with infections, bleeding and abdominal pain.

It was reported this week that more than 400 women have received mesh and tape implants since the ban was brought in two years ago.

Researchers led by Aberdeen University compared synthetic mesh or biological grafts against standard native tissue repairs in 1,348 women with prolapse, where pelvic organs bulge into the vagina.

They found the mesh implant caused a number of complications and failed to offer any clear benefits.

The study, published in The Lancet journal, also found no significant difference between those who had the mesh or graft surgery, compared to the standard native tissue repair, up to two years after surgery.

Professor Cathryn Glazener, who led the study, said: “Because mesh did result in a number of complications, with no clear benefits, we conclude its use for these procedures could be considered an unnecessary risk. Therefore we consider that mesh should only be used in the future in high quality clinical trials aimed at improving the results of vaginal prolapse surgery.”

A separate review, commissioned by NHS Scotland, found mesh procedures for incontinence could be supported but mesh procedures for prolapse involving the bladder or bowel were less effective and likely to lead to complications.

Dr Rachael Wood, of Information Services Division, said: “Some mesh procedures are likely to be relatively safe and effective for some patients. Having said that, the results of this study show that mesh procedures should not be recommended as first line treatment for prolapse of the bladder or bowel. Women considering mesh surgery, or concerned about complications, should speak to their GP or surgeon in the first instance.”

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