TVT - The 20-Minute Op That’s Ruining Lives…

Have you heard of Tension Free Vaginal Tape (TVT) Surgery? Do you know someone that’s had this surgery for stress incontinence? Or are you now suffering because of the life-changing complications that can follow this “quick-fix” op?

There have been a number of recent news stories concerning TVT mesh, and the media attention is only growing. But this is not a new story to us. At Jefferies Solicitors, we have already been dealing with several claims against Trusts across the UK who have used this mesh. Our clients, like many women, were not made fully aware of the potential risks that this procedure carries and, had they been properly advised, would not have had surgery. Clients with only minor symptoms feel strongly that they would not have proceeded at a point where their symptoms were manageable or where they should have been offered a less invasive, alternative form of treatment. Where the procedure has then been carried out in a number of cases the mesh has been incorrectly inserted and our clients left with devastating and continuous pain.

So, What is TVT Mesh?

TVT mesh is intended to help women with stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is caused by a weakening of the ligaments which support the urethra – which can lead to a leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing or during activity. During a TVT procedure, 2 small cuts are made to the abdomen and another in the vagina. The tape is then passed through these cuts and placed around the urethra to form a sling – which supports the urethra and helps prevent leakage. There are around 15,000 of these operations every year.

However, there are several issues with this treatment.
1) The mesh can erode over time;
2) There have been instances of the mesh being put in the wrong place;
3) If not secured correctly, the mesh can move around, causing damage to surrounding tissue.

These complications have led to many women suffering from chronic pain and discomfort along with re-occurring infections.

Controversy over Statistics

There is some debate over the exact numbers of women who have been affected by the negative side effects of this surgery. Ethicon, one of the main producers of the mesh, said that these devices ‘had helped millions of women’. However, a scientific report published in Nature magazine suggested that following an 8-year-long study, around 9.8% of patients have experienced complications following the procedure. The known complications which, in many cases can be life-changing, are often not properly explained at the point of consent. Had they been, it is likely that women who previously experienced very mild and manageable symptoms might not have elected for such an invasive option, thus avoiding the risks of the procedure.

Real Life Stories

There are many tragic real-life stories that have been documented, such as the cases of Elaine Holmes and Olive Mcllroy who were told that the surgery would ‘change their lives’. They were both told that the side-effects that they suffered were ‘unique’, but when the two women became friends, they realized that they were not the only ones who had suffered. They then founded the ‘Hear Our Voice’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the risks of using the mesh and to suspend the procedure in Scotland until a public enquiry can be undertaken.

At Jefferies we have a detailed understanding of the procedure and are here to advise clients who complain that the risks were not fully explained and, in a number of cases, the mesh then inserted incorrectly. Once the mesh is inserted, the mesh is very difficult to remove as it is designed to stay in place permanently. The mesh procedure was originally designed to treat hernias and so questions have also been raised about the suitability of the mesh for the treatment of stress incontinence and the absence of long term data on the safety of the TVT procedure.

What Can You do if you have been affected by a TVT mesh implant?

In the UK alone, there are already at least 800 women already involved in actions against the NHS and other hospitals. If you would like to speak to one of our medical negligence solicitors regarding your potential TVT mesh claim, please feel free to drop us an email or give us a call!

Phone: 01702 443472

The BBC have recently covered the TVT Mesh story on an episode of Panorama. If you would like to find out more before you get in touch, follow the link below.