Most mesh procedures are used to repair inguinal hernias, which affect the inner groin, but there are more than a hundred different meshes being used, and there's no clinical evidence to suggest they are safe, says Prof Carl Heneghan, a medical device expert at Oxford University. Many have been tested only on laboratory animals and for just a few days.
He said the tests are "completely inadequate", a view supported by post-surgical reports that one in 10 patients experience significant chronic pain, with the mesh cutting into tissue and nerves, and some die from an infection.
A BBC review of the surgery discovered that most of the approval processes were shrouded in secrecy, with even doctors unable to access the data.
Prof Heneghan has called on the National Health Service to immediately stop all mesh procedures for which there is no clinical evidence of their safety. Vaginal mesh repairs have been suspended in the UK until the results of a government review are announced.