Safety and Quality > Our Work > Transvaginal Mesh > Resources for consumers, clinicians and health service organisations – Transvaginal mesh

The Commission has finalised a number of resources and guidance documents to improve health care for women considering the use of transvaginal mesh for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), and for removal of transvaginal mesh.

These include:

  • Consumer information resources
  • Care pathways for POP and SUI
  • Guidance for hospital credentialing of senior medical practitioners to implant and remove mesh for treatment of POP and SUI
  • Service model framework for transvaginal mesh implantation, mesh complications and mesh removal services.

These documents result from detailed consideration of the peer-reviewed evidence and consultation with consumers, clinicians, relevant colleges and surgical specialty societies, state and territory health departments, the Australian Government Department of Health and the Reference Group that was convened to support this work.

These resources have taken into account recent changes to the registration of a number of transvaginal mesh devices on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). While registration of transvaginal mesh products for treatment of POP has been cancelled, there is still potential for clinicians to use these devices with the necessary approvals. For this reason, the Commission has continued to produce Guidance documents for POP.

Consumer information resources on treatment of POP and SUI

These resources have been developed following extensive consultation with women affected by complications of transvaginal mesh.

The resources explain the symptoms of POP and SUI, the range of treatment options – doing nothing, non-surgical and surgical treatments – and their risks and benefits. These include information about changes made by the TGA to remove transvaginal mesh products from the ARTG, where the sole use is the treatment of POP via transvaginal implantation and for single incision mini-slings for treatment of SUI.  The resources also include advice that use of these mesh products in Australia now requires special approval.

Each resource also includes information on complications which may result from insertion of transvaginal mesh, and where to find more detail about the complications.  A list of questions which women might consider asking their doctor, prior to these procedures is also included.

The Commission is finalising work on an information resource for women considering removal of transvaginal mesh following complications.

Care pathways for POP and SUI

The care pathways describe clinical considerations to be made when clinicians are assessing women who have POP and SUI. The pathways provide clinicians with an evidence-based approach to first line management, specialised surgical and non-surgical care and the types of medical specialists who may be involved in providing care.

The pathways have two components, the first of these provide an opportunity for alignment with the pathways used by a number of Primary Health Networks to guide the discussions between women and their general practitioners:

The second component of the pathways are the surgical pathways for POP and SUI.  These use a traffic light approach (red, yellow, green) to identify options for surgical treatments, based on the strength of evidence and potential patient outcomes for each type of procedure:

The Reference Group developed the pathways based on the work of the International Collaboration on Incontinence.  The Commission acknowledges the contribution of this group in the development of the Commission’s versions of the resources. The pathways are being developed as an interactive web version to allow easier access for clinicians reviewing treatment options and also in explaining various pathways to women considering treatment which will be available in June 2018..

The Commission is finalising a care pathway for general practitioners for removal of transvaginal mesh following complications.

Guidance for hospital credentialing of senior medical practitioners to implant and remove transvaginal mesh for treatment of POP and SUI

Credentialing is the process used by public and private hospitals to ensure that only suitably experienced, trained and qualified medical practitioners provide particular types of services. Credentialing is essential to ensure the safety of patient care.

Guidance has been finalised for hospital credentialing and training of senior medical practitioners who perform transvaginal mesh surgeries and mesh removal including:

The Guidance describes the experience and qualifications that senior medical practitioners need to be credentialed to implant and remove mesh for treatment of POP and SUI. It also includes recommendations on device specific training, the requirements for maintaining skills, monitoring and reporting on patient outcomes, the types of specialty supports services hospitals should have if they offer implantation and removal of transvaginal mesh and the requirement for post-operative follow-up.

The states and territories will consider the use the Guidance in their local credentialing processes. The private sector also undertake credentialing processes, and the Commission will be working with the private sector to promote the use of these Guidance documents for credentialing across private hospitals.