The UK health regulator has taken the first step towards NHS England lifting a temporary ban on the use of vaginal mesh implants.
The implants are used to treat incontinence and prolapse in women, often after childbirth. Their use was paused last year to allow for a safety review, after women reported severe pain and complications. Around one in 10 recipients have had complications within five years of surgery, according to one study.
Now the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said the ban could be lifted if certain conditions are met. These include establishing a national database to record procedures and complications, and that only specialist surgeons at specialist centres carry out the surgery.
The guidelines also recommend that people are offered booklets, called “decision aids”, that clearly set out the possible risks of vaginal mesh implants. Women who opt for surgery over physical therapies should be warned that the implants may cause pain, including during sex.
But campaigners say the new guidelines aren’t materially different from ones published 16 years ago. “They are so weak, they clear the way for the next generation of women to be harmed,” Kath Sansom of Sling The Mesh said in a statement.
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