Bladder Slings and Mesh Slings Are Used To Treat Incontinence and Prolapse

Doctors often use “vaginal sling” or “bladder sling” procedures to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)–a condition in which a woman’s reproductive or pelvic organs fall into or through her vaginal opening–and Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)–a condition marked by the involuntary leakage of urine from a woman’s urethra during moments of physical stress. These operations are called “sling procedures” because the doctors performing them use surgical mesh to create a sling-like structure of support for a patient’s urethra, bladder, or some other organ.

Products Used in Mesh Procedures Are Often Called “Slings”

As vaginal sling and bladder sling procedures increased in popularity in the late 1990s, medical device companies began to develop and market mesh products in configurations designed specifically to treat POP and SUI. Boston Scientific’s ProteGen Sling was one such product. Cleared for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997, the ProteGen Sling was “rushed to market for financial reasons without adequate premarket clinical trials,” according to American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Boston Scientific voluntarily recalled the ProteGen Sling in 1999 after having received thousands of complaints.

In the early 2000s, doctors began treating women’s incontinence by employing a sling operation that became known as a Tension-Free Vaginal Tape or “TVT” procedure, or an “intravaginal slingplasty.” One of the sling products used for this procedure was ObTape, which hit the market in 2003 and was manufactured by Mentor Corporation (a company that was eventually taken over by Johnson & Johnson). ObTape consisted of “a nonwoven polypropylene mesh that was threaded underneath the uretha, through the vagina, and out through the obturator foramen,” according to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Like the ProteGen Sling, ObTape was cleared for sale by the FDA “without clinical proof of its safety and efficacy.”  It, too, caused patients immeasurable harm. As a result, its manufacturer discontinued it in 2006.

Many Mesh Sling Products and Bladder Sling Products Remain on the Market

Many types of bladder slings and mesh slings are still legally being used by U.S. doctors to treat female incontinence. They are marketed under many names, including the following:

  • Tension-free Transvaginal Tape (TVT): Also known as Gynecare TVT, this mesh product is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, and has been used to treat more than 1.5 million women worldwide. Doctors implant Gynecare TVT by making two small incisions in the abdomen, just above the public bone. No sutures hold the tape in place. Gynecare TVT reportedly was approved by the FDA based on its similarity to Boston Scientific’s ProteGen Sling, which–as noted above–has since been recalled.
  • Mini Slings: There are several mini mesh slings and bladder slings on the market, including one known as the MiniArc. Doctors put mini-slings in place by making incisions in the same places used for TVT implants. They make a small incision under the urethra and place the sling/tape there. A mini-sling is positioned at a less acute angle than the TVT sling.
  • Monarc SPARC Sling: The SPARC sling treats urinary stress incontinence by using two curved, narrow-diameter needles and a self-fixating sling with a tension suture. The Sparc sling is similar to other tensionless vaginal tapes, but the needles are thinner and are inserted from the suprapubic area in a posterior direction and guided with a finger inserted through a small suburethral incision.

Victims of Many Brands of Bladder Slings and Mesh Slings Are Suing

Victims of injuries caused by mesh slings and bladder slings have filed lawsuits to obtain compensation for their injuries. Those victims include patients who have received implants of a type of sling that has been recalled, the Protegen Sling, and one type that’s been discontinued, ObTape.

Lawsuits have been filed by patients who have been implanted with the many bladder slings and mesh slings that are still on the market, too, however.

Whether or not the products they were implanted with have been recalled, women suffering from side effects are filing lawsuits against several sling manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific.

As of February 2012, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered all federal-level vaginal mesh lawsuits against four manufacturers consolidated into four multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin is the presiding judge. The four companies involved are: C.R. Bard; American Medical Systems; Boston Scientific; and Ethicon. MDL allows parties whose cases share common opponents, facts, and legal issues to combine their cases for the pretrial phase only. Consolidation saves the parties’ and the judiciary’s time and resources while allowing plaintiffs the opportunity to recover an amount of compensation that corresponds to their injuries, unlike in a class action lawsuit, which provides a fixed award. At the end of the pretrial process, the parties select a handful of plaintiffs, whose cases are typical of all plaintiffs, to try their cases before juries in what are called “bellwether trials.” Bellwether trials allow the remaining plaintiffs and defendants to assess their cases and decide whether they should proceed to trial themselves or settle out of court. The first transvaginal mesh bellwether trial is scheduled to begin on February 15, 2013, against C.R. Bard.

Call Today For a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love has suffered from side effects or complications from a bladder sling or a mesh sling, submit this simple secure form for a free and confidential evaluation to learn more about your eligibility to file a surgical mesh lawsuit.

Don’t let the type of mesh your doctor used affect your decision to contact us. Patients who have suffered from the side effects of all types of mesh are recovering.

Our lawyers understand the pain you’ve experienced. We will make the process of evaluating your claim as quick and simple for you as possible.

Join the Discussion

Please note: Comments are encouraged in order to permit visitors to discuss relevant topics. Comments are moderated and might be edited by RLG before being published.

Comments should not be used to ask questions of RLG’s lawyers; if you want to speak with a lawyer, please fill out this contact form or call 1 (888) 976-8529. *Your name and email address will not be published.



rlg Previous Comments

  1. Guest
    on January 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I had my bladder sling put in the year of 1999 or 2000, I am not sure. I, also, am not sure of what materials my sling is made out of. I have contacted my primary care physician to see if she had any information on my surgery (I have all copies of any surgeries and medical attention sent to her) and she said that since her office had put all of their paper files on the computer that all of her papers are in their cellar. I asked them to go and check it out and they told me that they could find nothing about my surgery in their files. They do not have any record of it in their computer either. So I just remembered the doctors name that did it and I think that I will try to call her tomorrow and see if I can get any information about what type of bladder sling I have. Do you think that it is worth my time to do this or is the year(s) that I had it done out of the scope of when the lawsuit is for? I have had and still have complications and been to a urologist, been on meds., and been to bladder therapy. I did have a bladder slingput in in 1999 or 2000 (I can not find out that information as of yet) I have burning and absolutely unbearable itching around the rectum. I have gone to the doctors for the itching and have been given some itching cream and I have even used hemorroid creams but nothing seems to work. I am up every 2 hours at night having to go urinate and sometimes I just don't make it to the bathroom especially if I drink water just before I go to bed. I wear a pad most all of the time to prevent accidents when I am out in public. I had an accident and wet my pants when I was getting out of my car to go grocery shopping. Needless to say I did not go I had to turn around and come home to shower and change my clothing. I sneeze or cough and sometimes I pee my pants. It is embarassing and very stressful to me.

  2. Guest
    on November 6, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I had a mesh sling in 2003, continued to have leakage threw out the years, now I get a rash, its like my plumbing got busted. I'm seeing another urologist wed. It's embarrassing, have to excuse myself from meetings to change pads. I'm like a kid at bed time, don't drink too much fluids because I will wet the bed even with double pads.

  3. Guest
    on May 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I want to know the specific symptoms of "infection" as result of the pelvis mesh. Vaginal? Rectal? I've been fighting what I thought was vaginal yeast infection for over a year. Yes, I have used over-the-counter Monistat-7 topical treatments (4-5 times). I have come to conclude, though, that the infection may not be vaginal. The itching, burning, and rash is now highly concentrated and highly extensive around the rectum. Over the past year, I have additionally studied how to treat yeast infection, taken capsule and liquid acidophilus, reduced sugar and dairy intake (even natural sugars like limiting most carbs and even fruit), and have even lost 65 pounds in a massively serious weight-loss program with Quick Weight Loss. None of these efforts have helped the growing itching, burning, scratching, oozing, scabbing and constant discomfort around the rectum. Do these symptoms correlate with the common symptoms of other patients' negative reactions to pelvic mesh? Yes, I had a hysterectomy and bladder repair a couple of years ago, using some type of pelvic mesh.

    I also studied and made dietary changes thinking I had a wheat intolerance or wheat allergy due to the abdominal pain I was suffering. I rarely eat wheat anymore, or very limited amounts. Eventually, I decided the abdominal pain wasn't due to wheat allergy, but I've suffered greatly from abdominal pain. Doubled-over in class (I'm a teacher) many times. Lay on the floor in an office at school one day while filing cumulative academic papers because the pain was making my legs weak and whole body sweat.

  4. Guest
    on April 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I had a bladder sling put in 2010 and I'm not sure what kind it is the doctor was using. I have not had a pelvic examination for over a year now and I am still having issues with wetting on my self and some other issues.

    1. Guest
      on April 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Find out what type of mesh you have and go get checked immediately. I had mesh surgery in 2007. I am seeking to have it removed due to the complications. Good luck!

RLG encourages you to reproduce our original content—on your own web site; in emails to your friends and family; in blogs, posts, and tweets, etc.—but we ask that you please attribute whatever you use to us, and, whenever possible, provide a link to the page where you first found the material. That way, whoever reads your excerpt might read more informative material of interest at one of RLG's sites.
You’ve taken enough. We'll take it from here. Click here to contact us now.