Campaigners delighted about a report that shows mesh, used by surgeons in hospitals across Cambridgeshire, degrades while inside the body

PUBLISHED: 16:16 10 September 2015 | UPDATED: 17:32 15 September 2015

Dr Robert Bendavid, among authors of reports outlining mesh complications

Dr Robert Bendavid, among authors of reports outlining mesh complications


Campaigners raising awareness about an operation that uses a plastic mesh sling to support weakened pelvic floor muscles have welcomed a new report proving the plastic degrades inside the body.

Sling The Mesh Facebook campaign Sling The Mesh Facebook campaign

Three leading researchers, who offer expert opinions in medical legal cases, are calling for mesh to be properly examined saying they have evidence to show it degrades causing chronic pain for patients.

The trio studied 164 explanted meshes and found that a foreign body reaction continues until it is removed.

The report, published last month, has been welcomed by journalist Kath Sansom, who launched Facebook campaign Sling The Mesh after suffering painful complications following a TVT operation for stress incontinence suffered after natural childbirth.

Kath said: “Women in the campaign are delighted that for the first time a report by respected authors shows mesh can cause problems.”

Reporter Kath Sansom pictured on Sky News where she talks about the campaign Sling The Mesh Reporter Kath Sansom pictured on Sky News where she talks about the campaign Sling The Mesh

The report said: “Polypropylene meshes, originally introduced for hernia repair, are used in several sites and several million are implanted worldwide. Up to 10 per cent will be excised to treat complications.

“In many cases, mesh-related complications develop several years after implantation. The degraded layer becomes thicker over time while its cracking indicated brittleness and loss of flexibility.

“Explants from patients are the primary source of information, however the material has been largely under utilised,” and has been “overlooked for decades.”

The report says the thickness of degraded material grows while the mesh is in the body and increases the longer it is inside.

One of the mesh report authors Vladimir Iaklovev One of the mesh report authors Vladimir Iaklovev

It creates potential for bacterial colonisation of the fissures within the degraded material.

“The scar around mesh fibres undergoes a continuous remodelling,” the report said.

“An important finding was the detection of inflammatory cells partially migrated and trapped within the fissures.

“Molecules released from mesh may play a role in inflamed tissue damage with subsequent repair.

“Polypropylene degrades while in the body,” said authors Canadian researcher Vladimir Lakovlev, American professor Scott Guelcher and Canadian hernia surgeon Dr Robert Bendavid.

The average mesh studied by them was inside a patient for four and a half years.

The report is great news for campaigners but it is unlikely to be included in the Cochrane Review, an independent panel that reports on mesh every five years.

A spokesman said: “Research included in Cochrane reports typically include randomised control trials, so this is unlikely to feature in a systematic review.”

A spokesman for the MHRA said: “MHRA are aware of this recently published article of a study in Canada. This will contribute to our on-going work in monitoring the safety and performance of these medical devices.

“We note that this study concludes that both physical and chemical aspects of polypropylene degradation need to be studied more extensively for their roles in the development of complications, which we fully agree with.”

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