Pelvic mesh injury clinic, co-designed by women, set to open in Queensland - ABC News


Posted April 06, 2019 09:48:29

A clinic specialising in treating mesh-injured women is set to open in Australia this month.

Key points:

  • Clinic to treat mesh-injured women set to open in Queensland
  • Head doctor says aim is to provide a world-class service
  • Woman with failed implant has already been referred to clinic

Established in direct response to a 2018 Senate Inquiry into pelvic mesh products, Queensland Pelvic Mesh Service at Varsity Lakes, on the Gold Coast, will receive $3.14 million annually over the next three years.

Urogynecologist Dr Malcolm Frazer, the clinical medical lead of the new service, said input from mesh-injured women was sought to help design the clinic.

"We wanted to make sure that we had a system that would fit their needs," Dr Frazer said.

"If we don't listen to them, and if we don't have them involved in the establishment of the clinic, then we're going to miss that."

'Like having a bullet in your body'

Among those referred to the service is Sunshine Coast woman Sandra Chapman, who has experienced complications from a transvaginal mesh implant procedure carried out in 2013.

She said she did not question her surgeon when he told her he would need to "mesh up" her bladder to correct a problem she was having going to the toilet.

"I went through with it because I had blind trust in him," she said.

"I have had four children and I was having a few troubles down there."

Her mesh implant procedure was done vaginally.

"They sling [the mesh] up there and there's spring-loaded anchors that are supposed to hold it up in place — in my case up around my bladder," she said.

"I've since found out through a specialist that my mesh quite possibly straight away fell down and then of course, I've got a foreign body response.

"It's like having a bullet in your body, which [causes] inflammation."

Ms Chapman said the mesh did not relieve her symptoms.

"If anything, I actually became incontinent after the operation, which I didn't really have beforehand," she said.

"I believe that is from the weight of the mesh."

Ms Chapman said she can no longer enjoy her love of cycling and power-walking.

"At the moment, my mesh is so low down that I am actually told not to cycle," she said.

"I'm not prepared to take that risk, and also it's very uncomfortable because of where it's sitting — I feel that."

Ms Chapman is fearful of what could happen if she attempted to have sex.

"Especially [with] any friction there, I'd be afraid that the mesh would come through," she said.

'Canary in the coalmine'

Melissa Fox, the CEO of charity Health Consumers Queensland, said the independent body first began receiving complaints from women with mesh implants in 2014.

"It really felt like a canary in the coalmine around medical devices and safety and quality," Ms Fox said.

She said the National Mesh Forum, which was held in Melbourne on Friday, was "the first time stakeholders have been able to come together from a consumer perspective to look at the issue."

Ms Fox said women are still not being told about the full range of complications they might experience.

"Unfortunately, there hasn't been a galvanising within the medical community around this issue," she said.

"We are starting to see some doctors demonstrate great empathy.

"They can see that they too were let down by our safety and quality systems."

Ms Fox believes the Queensland Pelvic Mesh Service could set a new standard.

"[It is] definitely the only one of its kind in Australia and we would say internationally," she said.

'Serious and complex problems'

Dr Frazer said he and other specialists had visited various medical centres in North America to make sure they were offering a world class service.

He said that in addition to up to five urogynecologists, the service includes psychologists, pelvic floor physiotherapists, occupational health and social workers, as well as nurses and other medical specialists.

Choosing the patients carefully is important, with estimates that anywhere between 7-20 pecent of women with transvaginal implants could have issues with the mesh.

"The best estimate would be that only about 50 percent of women who have significant mesh removal surgery can expect real benefit in the management of their pain," Dr Frazer said.

Dr Frazer predicted that at least 123 women will need to access the Queensland Pelvic Mesh Service annually, and that the clinic had already started taking referrals.

"The vast majority of women who have had pelvic mesh for either the treatment of prolapse or incontinence will not having any issues or problems," he said.

"So we're dealing with a small percentage, but unfortunately we're dealing with people who have serious problems which are very complex."

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has banned transvaginal mesh implants used to treat pelvic organ prolapse, but some mesh products are still able to used in Australia.

The eligibility criteria for the Queensland Pelvic Mesh Service can be found here[7].

Topics:health[8], womens-health[9], doctors-and-medical-professionals[10], medical-ethics[11], medical-procedures[12], human-interest[13], qld[14], mermaid-waters-4218[15], mermaid-beach-4218[16], miami-4220[17], burleigh-waters-4220[18], burleigh-heads-4220[19], coolangatta-4225[20], southport-4215[21], bundall-4217[22], benowa-4217[23], ashmore-4214[24]


  1. ^Photo: Sandra Chapman formed a Facebook support group for women injured by vaginal mesh implants. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Megan Kinninment) (
  2. ^Photo: Associate Professor Malcolm Frazer is heading up the new clinic. (ABC Gold Coast: Damien Larkins) (
  3. ^Photo: Sandra Chapman says her quality of life has seriously declined as a result of her implant. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Megan Kinninment) (
  4. ^Photo: Sandra Chapman is on a host of medications as she prepares for surgery to have her implant removed. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Megan Kinninment) (
  5. ^Photo: Sandra Chapman was among about 100 women who attended the National Forum into Mesh Implants in Melbourne. (Supplied: Sandra Chapman) (
  6. ^Photo: The clinic will open at Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast later this month. (ABC Gold Coast: Damien Larkins) (
  7. ^here (
  8. ^health (
  9. ^womens-health (
  10. ^doctors-and-medical-professionals (
  11. ^medical-ethics (
  12. ^medical-procedures (
  13. ^human-interest (
  14. ^qld (
  15. ^mermaid-waters-4218 (
  16. ^mermaid-beach-4218 (
  17. ^miami-4220 (
  18. ^burleigh-waters-4220 (
  19. ^burleigh-heads-4220 (
  20. ^coolangatta-4225 (
  21. ^southport-4215 (
  22. ^bundall-4217 (
  23. ^benowa-4217 (
  24. ^ashmore-4214 (

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