Complications of Transvaginal Mesh for Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Stress Urinary Incontinence: Tips for Prevention, Recognition, and Management

Susan MacDonald, Ryan Terlecki, Elisabetta Costantini, Gopal Badlani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Context Mesh-related complications following transvaginal management of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and/or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) have received significant attention in the last decade. Objective We sought to identify patient, product, and technical factors associated with an increased risk of complications after mesh-based transvaginal repair of anterior POP and SUI. In this review we clarify the different pattern of complications after POP and SUI repairs. Our aim is to provide a practical evidence-based guide for physicians to prevent and, if necessary, manage product-associated complications in a stepwise manner. Evidence acquisition We conducted a comprehensive PubMed search of all English-language articles published from 2010 to June 2016, using these search terms: mesh, pelvic organ prolapse, and stress urinary incontinence. Expert opinion is also provided. Evidence synthesis Mesh-related complications are much lower after repair of SUI compared with POP, despite its more frequent use. Vaginal exposure is the most common mesh-specific complication. Patients may present with vaginal discharge, dyspareunia, pain, recurrent urinary tract infection, and/or hematuria. Conversely, patients may be asymptomatic. Small asymptomatic mesh exposures (<0.5 cm) may be treated conservatively. Larger exposures will require partial, if not complete, excision with reconstruction. Any mesh encountered within the urinary tract must be fully excised. Following excision, pain may persist in up to 50% of patients. Conclusions Vaginal extrusion, persistent pain, and urethral and/or bladder erosion are the three most common product-specific complications following mesh-based repair for SUI or POP. Conservative therapies may be attempted, but most patients ultimately require partial or complete mesh excision. Patient summary We reviewed the recent literature on mesh-related complications after repair of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Vaginal exposure, persistent pain, and erosion into the urinary tract are the most common. These often require surgical management, best suited to a urologist with training and experience in this area. Evidence supports mesh use for correction of SUI, whereas the indication for POP repair remains controversial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-267
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Urology Focus
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urology


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