Four Types of Transvaginal Mesh
Transvaginal full-length or patch slings are implanted through both abdominal and vaginal incisions and secured with either absorbable sutures or anchors (miniature screws). The full-length sling is roughly two by seven-inches long. A patch is about one by two inches. Examples include: the Gynecare Prolift and the Gynecare Prolift+M.
Tension-free transvaginal tape is mainly used to treat SUI. The mesh is inserted through your vagina and two small incisions in your lower abdomen near your pelvic bone. To pull the mesh inside, using his finger to identify anatomical markers, the surgeon passes a specialized needle through the area above your pubic bone called the retropublic space, which contains highly vascular tissues and is close to your bowel and bladder. Sutures and bone anchors are not required because it relies on your own tissues to hold it in place. Example: Gynecare Exact.
The transobturator tape procedure eliminates the need for a needle to go into your retropublic space. One or two needles are placed blindly through your groin area. Your surgeon then uses a vaginal incision to help guide the tape under your bladder. Example: Boston Scientific Obtryx.
The mini sling procedure uses only one incision in the vaginal area under the urethra. The mesh is secured with two “self-retaining tips” which are punched into your obturator foramen, the site of many permanent nerve injuries. Some doctors say this reduces the risk for injuries but recent scientific literature reports an equal number of complications. Example: AMS MiniArc Single Incision Sling.
Properties of Synthetic Surgical Mesh
Synthetic materials are categorized according physical properties: composition (mono-filament or multi-filament), pore size, flexibility, and architecture (knitted or woven). Mesh used in pelvic reconstruction is different from hernia mesh in order to provide ease of use and the capability for the host tissue to grow into it while reducing your risk for erosion, infection, extrusion, and cancer.
Type I monofilament macroporous polypropylene mesh (preferred synthetic material) has a large pore size, greater than 75 micrometers, facilitates the infiltration of the mesh by macrophages, fibroblast and blood vessels (your body’s wound healing defenses). It is believed to cause less infection as your tissue grows into it. Lightweight Type I mesh has a lower density of polypropylene and is believed to cause less foreign-body response.
Type II monofilament microporous mesh – allows bacterial infiltration and it is harder for blood vessels and fibers to grow into because of the small pore size (smaller than 10 micrometers) resulting in a higher risk of recalcitrant infections.
Type III multifilament mesh – has small interstices, (less than 10 micrometers) and bacteria that is less than one micrometer can replicate within its interstices. It is less than optimal because it allows access to macrophages and limits your ability to fight bacterial colonization within the spaces. There is also an increased risk of bacteria adherence due to increased surface area of the mesh (biofilm).
Type IV meshes – are sub-microporous coated biomaterials with pores of less than one micrometer. They are generally avoided in pelvic reconstructive surgery.
Peggy Day is working on a book to combine all these stories. This is an excerpt from Pelvis in Flames: Your Pelvic Mesh Owner’s Guide. Your input is welcome to help make Pelvis in Flames the book you need to read.
If you’d like to join an online support group and learn about erosion, partial removals, surgeons, or just find out that you are not alone, join my group, Surgical Mesh or check the list of support groups here.
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