LAS VEGAS – While research suggests that vaginal mesh grafts are inappropriate for many prolapse repairs, an obstetrician-gynecologist told colleagues that they’re still a valid tool in the repair procedure known as sacral colpopexy, in which mesh is attached via an abdominal route.
Beri M. Ridgeway, MD, of Cleveland Clinic, spoke about the role of mesh grafts and prolapse repairs at the Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery Symposium.
As Dr. Ridgeway noted, vaginal mesh grafts are controversial because of concerns about their safety. Although many women had favorable outcomes, an unacceptable proportion have experienced complications.
In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration warned that urogynecologic surgical mesh had been linked to 2,874 reports of injuries, deaths, and malfunctions, mostly in pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repairs, over 3 years. The other injuries were in stress urinary incontinence repairs. The report focuses on transvaginal mesh for prolapse and not sacral colpopexy or synthetic midurethral slings, which are considered to have a more favorable risk profile.
The FDAthat “serious adverse events are NOT rare ... and transvaginally placed mesh in POP repair does NOT conclusively improve clinical outcomes over traditional non-mesh repair.” Subsequently, most companies stopped marketing mesh for transvaginal repair of POP.
Since 2011, research has offered new perspective on the use of mesh in specific POP situations.
“We know that mesh does have some slight improvement in medium-term outcome for subjective and objective symptoms,” Dr. Ridgeway said at the meeting, which was jointly provided by Global Academy for Medical Education and the University of Cincinnati. “This all comes at a price. There’s more blood loss, and you can actually have prolapse in other compartments and de novo SUI.”
She pointed out that these outcomes were noted in a 2013 Cochrane Review. It found improvements in subjective and objective results after treatment with polypropylene mesh vs. native tissue for anterior compartment POP repairs. But the review found multiple disadvantages for mesh vs. native tissue in operating time, blood loss, and reoperations ().
In 2016, an updated Cochrane Review declared that “current evidence does not support the use of mesh repair compared with native tissue repair for anterior compartment prolapse owing to increased morbidity.” The review also cautioned that while new light-weight transvaginal meshes are available, they haven’t been fully studied. “Clinicians and women should be cautious when utilizing these products, as their safety and efficacy have not been established,” according to the review ().
In a follow-up interview, Dr. Ridgeway said “the data are scarce, so it is hard to have an opinion on this.”
She focused much of her presentation on sacral colpopexy..
“Compared to native tissue prolapse repair using a vaginal approach, sacral colpopexy does have an increased risk profile but likely is associated with better durability,” she said in the interview. “The long-term outcomes following sacral colpopexy are favorable and the risk profile is acceptably low.”
She prefers the approach for recurrent prolapse and post-hysterectomy prolapse, especially in patients with a shorter vagina. She also offers this procedure for younger patients with significant prolapse and those women who are very active or perform repetitive heavy lifting.
In the interview, she offered these tips about the procedure:
- “Identify pertinent anatomy and set yourself up for success. Restore anatomy, retract the colon if necessary, use angled laparoscopes to optimize visualization, and don’t place the vagina on significant tension.”
- “In cases with unusual anatomy, one must recheck anatomic landmarks because it is critical to avoid the middle sacral artery and left common iliac vein, which is often located close to the midline.”
- “The vagina should be well supported but not on tension. One must communicate with assistants to elevate the vagina but not push it too much. I often demonstrate to the assistant how I like it to be.”
- “In regard to closing the peritoneum over the mesh, I like to make sure this dissection is sufficient at the beginning of the case so this part is not a struggle.”
Dr. Ridgeway discloses consulting for Coloplast and serving as an independent contractor (Legal) for Ethicon.
Global Academy and this news organization are owned by the same company.