By Carolyn Chisholm
June 5, 2017, Perth
I started the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group 2.5 years ago to find an empathetic and ethical surgeon who would invite Dr. Dionysios Veronikis to Australia to remove the mesh devices from women that no other surgeons in Australia are able to remove. Veronikis can remove more prolapse mesh from the pelvis and legs than any surgeon here because he has invented equipment to reach deep into the pelvis that other surgeons can not reach. He has also removed more than 2000 meshes.
It is important that you know what the group is about. It is about Dr Veronikis; about him coming here. It is about empathy and support for women who are suffering. We do not like mesh or support mesh. We are anti mesh. We do not believe in partial removals. We believe in full removal wherever possible.
We have found a surgeon in Sydney who is a gynecology pain specialist and pudendal nerve specialist. The pudendal nerve is the area around the groin that so many women are having complications with who have mesh; when this nerve is damaged it is extremely painful and affects the groin and legs, the vulva, the vagina, the rectum, and lower back. It really is a specialised area that implanting surgeons seem to know very little about and yet it is the main problem with mesh-injured women. Proving that [to other gynecologists] though is another issue.
This surgeon has agreed to invite Dr. Veronikis to Australia to remove the large prolaspe meshes from women that other surgeons in Australia refuse to or cannot do. Dr. Veronikis is the surgeon I flew to St Louis to see to have my stress incontinence tape fully removed. This is a momentous step for mesh injured women having Veronikis come here because we have been searching for 2.5 years to find a surgeon who will agree to do this. The surgeon here has already flown to America recently to meet Dr. Veronikis and receive training in mesh removal of the smaller tapes/meshes for incontinence. However, the larger prolapse meshes are very complicated and dangerous to remove and it takes a special surgeon to remove these.
Dr. Veronikis designed his own removal equipment and instruments and patented them himself so he can get deep into the pelvis to remove the mesh. No other surgeon in the world has this equipment. However, now Australia will have it because there are two hospitals in Sydney who are paying for the equipment. The Sydney surgeon is flying back to the USA in a few weeks time to have more discussions with Veronikis about equipment and training nurses in theatre.
This is the beginning of a massive breakthrough for mesh injured women and now we have some hope. It is a huge undertaking and it has involved a hell of a lot of work from numerous people including mesh injured women and we have some fantastic, highly qualified and highly regarded medical staff backing us.
Women from all over Australia are booking in to have removal surgery with Dr. Veronikis in Sydney when he comes. Unfortunately the RANZCOG (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists)
stand by their statement that partial removal is an acceptable form of treatment. They refuse to get on board with full removal procedures, even though Dr. Veronikis has removed more than 2000 mesh devices and travels around the world speaking about the pain associated with mesh and that when pain occurs the only way is to remove all of the mesh. The women in the Austrailian support group do not agree with the RANZCOG about partial removal because every single woman who has had this procedure ends up with more complications and ends up going back into hospital for more surgery and they often end up with infections that don’t go away and they live on antibiotics.
The Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group is in the process of becoming a not for profit organisation so we can apply for funding to help mesh injured women Australia wide who need pain specialists, the correct diagnosis of mesh complications, psychological help and referrals to mesh removal surgeons which, at the moment, are very few and far between. The plan is to set up clinics in each city in Australia.
What is really important to distinguish is the prolapse meshes and the stress incontinence meshes. The prolapse meshes are in the high risk category whereas the stress incontinence meshes are still considered the gold standard even though there are no long term studies to prove it and RANZCOG state the clinical trials still need to be done for the SUI meshes, So this means that women are still guinea pigs otherwise why would they need the trials? I do know from a poll in our group that there are more women injured from stress incontinence meshes than prolapse meshes, possibly because more surgeons are implanting them these days since they have the “all clear” from RANZCOG.
I feel that the gynaecological associations have lost control of their gynaecologists and women are being implanted with mesh unnecessarily. Most GP’s know nothing about mesh complications and most gynae surgeons are sending women out the door telling them that their pain has nothing to do with the mesh. These surgeons don’t want to know anything about the complications that their implants have caused women. In fact I have read stories in the group about surgeons being rude to the women, some shout at them, some get angry with them, simply because the woman is presenting with pain and complications. They are turning their backs on the women. It is diabolical what is happening. This is why the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group needs to set up clinics Australia wide and find ethical and empathetic surgeons who want to be trained in full removal and to find the right medical professionals that really want to listen to these women, to believe them and not turn them away.
It is a very specialised issue and needs to be addressed immediately.
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