Truth in Medicine
Synthetic Surgical Mesh Myths and Lies
By Lana C. Keeton
If you went to your barber for a haircut and he cut out a chunk of your scalp, along with your hair, you would find another barber. Yet it is accepted practice, and even recommended by prominent surgeons…and paid for by insurance companies…to remove “chunks” of a woman’s vagina or bladder, or other tissue or organ, to remove pieces of “eroding” surgical mesh. Without anesthesia, I might add. This is a barbaric practice. . Let me tell you, I have had many of those “haircuts” and it is excruciating pain, not to mention demeaning and expensive.
You have to ask yourself, “Why would any doctor recommend such a procedure?” It’s real simple. “Erosion” of synthetic surgical mesh, implanted during pelvic organ prolapse repair and bladder suspension surgeries, occurs in an alarmingly high percentage of women. To avoid the vast legal liability of the use of surgical mesh by major institutions such as Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan over at least the last decade, surgeons, institutions, major medical professional societies and industry have joined forces against patients to protect their pocketbooks.
Writing major protest letters to the FDA, and testifying before the FDA’s ObGyn Advisory Committee Panel Meeting in September 2011, surgeons, professional medical societies, institutions and industry spoke out on behalf of petroleum waste by-products and against thousands and thousands of severely injured women. “Pharmageddon” as Paul Hilton wrote years ago, has arrived.
As a patient advocate, thousands of men and women have written to me to for help. Now I am sure you are asking yourself, Why would mesh injured patients write me, another patient and not a medical professional? Why not just go to the original surgeon who implanted the mesh to deal with their complications? Sadly, they write me because the medical profession is not addressing their serious debilitating complications of synthetic surgical mesh. Patients are routinely abandoned or discarded by their physicians. So why is this?
Here are a few sad scenarios. (Believe me, there are more.)
- The surgeon is a paid medical consultant/advisor to a mesh manufacturer who is protecting his/her job, the clinic or hospital he/she works for and the mesh manufacturer. He/she does not disclose what he/she knows to be truth about the dangers of mesh and will not acknowledge the severity or frequency to patients or surgeons whom they train to use mesh.
- The surgeon is not a paid medical consultant/advisor and has been lied to by industry and its’ paid minions about the nature, severity and real percentage of complications.
- The surgeon does not have the requisite surgical skills to explant what he/she has implanted even though the surgeon recognizes the patients’ plight.
- The surgeon knows the surgery to remove the mesh might maim or kill the patient and he/she will not take the risk to his/her career, reputation or financial security.
- The surgeon knows the dangers of mesh, is not a paid medical consultant/advisor but does not stand up for patients because of the potential ridicule from his/her peers and industry which might end his/her career as a surgeon.
So what does the surgeon typically do? Let me think about this. Oh yes. Deny it is the mesh. Deny the association between the complications and the mesh. Say it is the patients fault. Say the pain does not exist. Say it is a pre-existing condition. Tell the woman she has back problems. Tell her it is in her mind and does not really exist. Prescribe an anti-depressant. Send her for physical therapy (a highly invasive treatment where another person puts their hands into a woman’s vagina to manipulate it). Send her for trigger point therapy. Oh wait a minute. How does a doctor identify the nerves to inject in a woman’s pelvis for trigger point therapy? Most don’t. The doctor just plays hit or miss trying to inject the literally thousands of nerves in a woman’s pelvis. Send her for pain management. Keep her in the revolving door of the medical profession, pharmaceutical industry for life. The benefits of synthetic surgical mesh are a lie and the complications are a life sentence for anyone, and I do mean anyone man or woman, implanted with it.
Please let me emphasize here these scenarios, myths and lies are the same for men and women implanted with surgical mesh for hernia repair. Mesh hernia repair surgeries just have a different, but very similar, set of dangerous complications and a different group of surgeons. The horror of all these complications is they are permanent and irreversible. Even when the mesh is completely removed when possible, major nerve damage frequently causes severe permanent chronic pain and/or permanent disability.
In my very informed opinion, the unnecessary use of synthetic surgical mesh is a disgrace to the medical profession, major hospitals and clinics, educational institutions and medical device makers. Synthetic surgical mesh does not implant itself. This is a major medical scandal which has to stop.
I challenge all surgeons to protect their patients from the dangers of synthetic surgical mesh by putting down the scalpel which only they control. Please stop implanting mesh (except in the rare case where there is no human tissue available).
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