Vaginal Mesh Procedures – Have you been affected by treatment at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust?
We represent a number of female patients affected by treatment they received at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust (‘the Trust’) for pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence.
Who Has Been Affected?
The Trust has written to patients of Consultant Uro-Gynaecologist, Dr. Angamuthu Arunkalaivanan relating to his use of vaginal mesh procedures despite them being banned from January 2009 onwards.
Local and national media has reported that 191 patients of Dr. Arunkalaivanan have been contacted by the Trust and asked to make appointments with gynaecologists to discuss and review the treatment they received.
What is Vaginal Mesh?
Trans-vaginal mesh is a net like implant, inserted in open surgery or in a tunnel-type procedure to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women.
Though mesh has treated symptoms successfully in a number of procedures, its use is controversial. This is because there is very little information on the long-term benefits of mesh, and a number of complications associated with it have been noted.
Synthetic surgical mesh has been associated with very distressing health problems in women, including extreme pain, infection, bleeding and incontinence. Other women have faced problems with incorrectly fitted mesh and been forced to undergo a number of revision surgeries.
Why is Synthetic Mesh Still Used?
The main benefit of using synthetic mesh is that it has a better success rate when compared to other traditional surgical repairs. The chance of developing complications is relatively low and the majority of women will not experience post-operative problems. The risks should be fully explained including the fact that the long-term effects are unknown and removing the mesh involves complex surgery. It is important that the procedure is carried out by a gynaecologist who specialises in post operative problems.
Where mesh repair is successful, and you are not experiencing any problems, it is safe to leave the mesh in place.
Concerns Raised by National Institute For Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) raised concerns in January 2009 about the safety and efficacy of various procedures which used mesh for vaginal repairs. NICE specifically explained that should doctors wish to use mesh procedures, they should take extra steps to explain the uncertainty about how well it works, as well as the uncertainty surrounding potential risks of the procedure.
These risks include the possibility of another prolapse, and complications such as painful mesh erosion – when part of the mesh begins to protrude into the vagina.
Vaginal Mesh Procedures at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust
It would appear that vaginal repairs using mesh were performed at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust since 2003, primarily by Dr. Angamuthu Arunkalaivanan.
In January 2009, the Trust decided to stop implanting vaginal mesh as a first surgical treatment to treat pelvic organ prolapse. This was in accordance with the NICE guidance, and many other hospital trusts had also taken this action. However, despite the Trust’s decision to stop offering mesh treatment, Dr. Arunkalaivanan continued to perform this type of operation.
The Trust is in the process of reviewing all mesh operations carried out by Dr. Arunkalaivanan. This review will check whether patients received reasonable treatment, including whether their surgery was appropriate and properly undertaken and also to check whether patients undergoing this surgery were provided with all the necessary information to make an informed decision about the procedure.
Who is Dr. Arunkalaivanan?
Dr. Angamuthu Shenbagavalli Arunkalaivanan is a Consultant Uro-Gynaecologist who was based at Birmingham City Hospital. He also worked privately for BMI Healthcare at the Edgbaston Hospital and the Priory Hospital in the West Midlands.
Dr. Arunkalaivanan is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, however since February 2015 he does not have a license to practise medicine in the UK.
Dr. Arunkalaivanan left the Trust in July 2013.
Have You Been Contacted?
It is concerning that despite being banned; synthetic mesh was still used by the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
If you underwent a mesh repair by Dr. Arunkalaivanan, you may understandably be concerned about the treatment you received. You may feel even more anxious if the procedure has not been successful and you are suffering from complications. If this is the case, you may have a claim for medical negligence and be entitled to compensation for your injuries. If you are worried, you should seek legal advice from a specialist about whether you have a claim.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we have many years of experience of helping people with gynaecological injuries to obtain compensation. We understand the impact these injuries can have and will handle your claim sensitively and professionally. We will work closely with medical and legal experts to achieve the best result for you, as quickly as possible. We will also put you in touch with support services, who will be able to assist you during your claim and recovery.