TVT, tension free vaginal tape, also known as vaginal mesh, was advertised as an innovative new product when it was introduced to the market; a simple procedure that provided an effective solution to bladder prolapse, a condition suffered by many women. However, as the years have passed, it has become clear that a high number of women who underwent surgery to have the mesh inserted have suffered painful and often permanent symptoms.
TVT is a mesh implant that is inserted into a woman’s vagina to support the bladder. This support many be required after childbirth, a hysterectomy or a pelvic organ prolapse. Childbirth or age can cause a weakening of the ligaments that support the urethra and because of this urine can be unintentionally released when pressure is put on the bladder. This pressure can be as little as coughing, sneezing or laughing. TVT was promoted as a solution to incontinence problems and indeed thousands of women in the UK opted for the TVT procedure to support the bladder; at that time unaware of the severity of the consequences which have since come to light.
The side effects vary but most who have had a negative experience report the pain as constant and chronic. Some have had to give up employment or change their once-active lifestyle. Many victims cannot walk or drive for long periods of time. The mesh can cause internal cuts and may eventually protrude, causing harm to the patient and any potential partners.
The mesh was designed to be a permanent solution to bladder prolapse; as a result its removal is a complex procedure. Some patients have underwent numerous surgeries to remove the mesh in pieces. Others have been told that it simply cannot be removed due to its positioning near a nerve. Remedial surgery is not always an option and even in cases where there is a potential surgical solution, there is a high risk of pain and further problems.
The consequences of TVT can be devastating and this was initially recognised in the USA where an action has been taken against the manufacturers of the product, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiarity, Ethicon. $11.1 million has been paid out to those affected.Similarly, in the UK in the past 18-24 months, actions have been commenced against the NHS and the manufacturer.
Alarmingly, the NHS still prescribes TVT. The body responsible for checking the product, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, has stated that the benefits still outweigh the disadvantages. There has been a call to suspend its usage in Scotland and the rest of the UK may follow suit while the extent of the serious consequences is established.
In recent months, we have taken instructions from a number of women who have suffered adverse effects as a result of TVT. If you have undergone this procedure in a hospital in Northern Ireland and are concerned about or suffering from symptoms similar to those mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact us. Worthingtons has a dedicated team of experienced litigation solicitors that specialise in medical negligence claims and who will gladly provide advice on all aspects of medical negligence claims in Northern Ireland.