Research is advancing a regenerative solution for a quality of life-limiting complication of mesh-based surgical repairs for stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women. While mesh-based surgical treatments are durable and provide symptom relief for a great number of patients, there is a risk of mesh complications following surgery, such as mesh exposure. In this situation, many patients require an additional surgery to revise their implant. Mayo Clinic research, supported by the Center for Regenerative Medicine, is testing a regenerative approach to restoring form and function without additional corrective surgery in the setting of vaginal mesh exposure.
Vaginal prolapse is a medical term for a condition that leads to bulging of the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus or rectum. It happens when ligaments and muscles on the pelvic floor stretch and weaken, no longer providing adequate support. Those internal organs slip down, bulging through the vagina wall, causing prolapse. Alternatively, women can also experience accidental leakage of urine with activity or cough, laugh and sneeze. This is termed stress urinary incontinence. Often linked to child birth, obesity or aging, incontinence and prolapse affect many women.
Women with vaginal prolapse or urinary incontinence may choose to undergo placement of mesh if they have failed conservative therapies. Mesh is used in gynecology surgery to lift and support the pelvic organs, typically the bladder or uterus, relieving the pressure that caused the pelvic floor defect. However, like all surgery, there are potential risks. The mesh sometimes wears through the vaginal walls, causing vaginal discharge and possibly discomfort for women and their partners. Therein lies the dilemma: should there be another surgery to remove the mesh or would the patient prefer to live with the symptoms?