09 5 / 2012
Medical Advancements: An Advantage to the Elderly?
The market-driven healthcare environment tend to show how much of the general public is being taken by the convincing strategies of thriving health industry companies, medical journals report. It is even more intimidating to know that all medical devices available in health departments had been cleared by the questioned 510 (k) review process. These concerns have roused House members into submitting a bill to reform FDA loophole based on vaginal mesh and other medical devices.
Truly, the health care system has changed a lot over the past years, and the aging population has benefited much from these technological advances. Most of these medical discoveries have enabled the elderly and many frail patients to battle chronic diseases and physical alterations related to the aging process. However, studies have also revealed how much the cost of health care has risen over the years, and is even deemed to further grow as new medical tools and interventions are developed. With the expected medical needs of the elderly, are these costly medical advancements really helping?
Based on Erik Erikson’s developmental theory, adults aging 60 and up confronts life situations that challenge them to attain ego integrity. During this period, they will reflect on their accomplishments and slowly accept all positive and negative experiences they have handled and consider each of them as part of their lives. This is why they often like telling stories of their past every chance they get. For some who often shares experiences of missed opportunities and unresolved problems, despair may slowly set in. Those around them need to know how much the presence of family and relatives makes it easier for them to live through the remaining years of their lives with contentment. However, apart from their social needs, the physiologic changes that come with increasing age also require great care and attention that medical devices alone cannot provide.
Numerous lifestyle adjustments must be made to accommodate the elderly’s declining health. Problems like memory impairment, depression, susceptibility to all types of infections, injuries and falls, mobility limitations, generalized weakness, elimination difficulties, sleeping irregularities, and reduced exercise tolerance among many others are expected to surface. Chronic heart conditions, bone problems, and incontinence may also materialize as the body further weakens.
Perhaps, the innovative and market oriented health care improvements have been useful to alleviate the discomforts of the elderly. However, these advancements have brought sufferings and injuries to some, and even led to indictments like the increasing number of transvaginal mesh lawsuit.
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31 1 / 2012
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
Practiced worldwide by many surgeons as treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), vaginal mesh surgery has been well known since the 1990’s. It refers to the implantation of a medical device called vaginal mesh into the vaginal wall to strengthen the pelvic muscles and to provide a better support for the pelvic organs.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is defined as the shifting of the organs in the pelvic region from their respective positions resulting from the weakening of the series of connective tissues that support the vaginal wall. There are different kinds of prolapse, and the most common are: bladder prolapse, urethrocele (prolapse of the urethra), uterine prolapse, and rectocele (prolapse of the rectum). Among the many types of prolapse, these are the most frequent to be developed: rectocele (prolapse of the rectum), urethrocele (prolapse of the urethra), bladder prolapse, and uterine prolapse. Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is known as the uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder in involuntarily induced movements like coughing or sneezing. This is most likely to develop from weakened pelvic muscles. POP and SUI both frequently occur to old women with weakened vaginal walls like in menopause, previous hysterectomy, and vaginal deliveries.
How do surgeons carry out this procedure? Firstly, an incision is made to gain access inside the vagina, and then the tissues that support the vaginal wall will be strengthened with stitches. A vaginal mesh is then inserted firmly under the vaginal skin and stitched intact. Designed with many holes, this medical device allows the body tissues to easily grow into it 3 to 4 weeks later. The incision made to the vagina earlier is then stitched back to close. An additional stitch at the top of the vagina or the cervix (sacrospinous stitch) may be required by some doctors for stronger support. However, patient may feel discomfort in the buttocks that could persist for 3 months if this stitch is done At the end of the surgery, a urinary catheter and a vaginal pack are inserted in place, and may be pulled out after one to two days.
Deadly complications associated with this surgery are most likely to happen, so careful observations should be done during the surgery and the recovery phase. Recently, increasing number of complaints from vaginal mesh recipients has flooded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The most common reported complications are: mesh erosion, bleeding, infection, recurrence of prolapse, urinary problems, and pelvic organ perforations. These complications are deceiving since they start as mild symptoms, but they are attributed to greater and more serious negative effects. Some of these complications are hard to manage, and some have even led to patient’s death. In fact, because of these deadly complications thousands of lawsuits were filed by many recipients against mesh manufacturers all over the United States recently.
If you are one of those women considering vaginal mesh surgery for the management of POP or SUI, or if you know someone who is planning to receive this treatment, ask your doctor detailed information about your surgery, most importantly about the possible complications this procedure may bring about.
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