In light of vaginal mesh safety concerns, we reviewed our institutional experience with analytic processes and pathologic findings of explanted vaginal mesh to identify problems and opportunities to facilitate improved documentation and research.
We reviewed gross and microscopic pathology reports and archival slides of explanted mesh specimens from January 2010 through February 2012. Specimen requisition clinical history, number of mesh specimens per case, and type of examination (gross or histologic) were abstracted from pathology records using the initial search word “mesh”.
One hundred two cases were reviewed. Explanted mesh specimens included tissue in 97%. Forty-eight percent of these cases were submitted for histopathologic evaluation (as opposed to gross examination only). Specimen requisitions listed clinical history as pain (28.4%), vaginal mesh erosion (24.5%), erosion (17.6%), urinary retention (5.9%), and infection (2.9%). When no history was provided (24.5%), the case was more frequently submitted for histologic examination (74% vs 41%, P = 0.05). In all but 2 cases, the mesh material was polypropylene; no requisition mentioned this information. Gross descriptions of mesh varied significantly; in 18% of the cases, mesh was inaccurately described as “metallic”. No cases of neoplasm were diagnosed histologically; all tissue diagnoses described benign reactive processes.
Our experience suggests that either gross or histopathologic examination is appropriate for mesh explants. Documentation of clinical history, mesh product, and material was frequently incomplete and associated with increased submission of tissue for histologic examination and inaccurate gross impression of material type. We recommend improved documentation to aid pathologic examination and enable future pathophysiologic study of mesh complications.