Unfortunately, many patients who undergo hernia repair involving hernia mesh suffer from complications. Showard Law Firm urges anyone who has undergone insertion of hernia mesh to be aware of the signs and symptoms of potential complications and visit a doctor if any are present.
Why mesh-related hernia repair surgery complications occur
Hernia repair was once a complicated procedure but the introduction of surgical mesh made the repair faster and easier. Unfortunately, patients who undergo hernia mesh surgery do not just need to contend with the risks of a surgical procedure but also with the potentially harmful effects of a foreign object being placed in the body.
Most common hernia mesh complications
The exact number of people who have suffered from hernia mesh complications is not known. However, in late 2018, the British Medical Journal reported that over a 6-year period, up to 170,000 patients in England – which has a much smaller population than the United States – could have experienced mesh complications. Approximately 570,000 hernia mesh operations were performed in that country during the 6-year period, with a complication rate between 12% and 30%.
In the United States, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has reported that the most commonly reported adverse events associated with hernia mesh repair included:
- Recurrence of hernia
- Obstruction of bowels
- Migration of mesh
- Contractions (mesh shrinkage)
Types of hernia mesh failure
- Infection – Whether bacterial agents are introduced during surgery or other complications lead to introduction of dangerous microbes from perforation of other organs post-surgery, infection can cause long-term and significant pain, inflammation, fever, and even dental problems. In the most severe cases, the hernia mesh can form a biofilm of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics that requires revision surgery to remove the mesh.
- Recurrence – In some cases, the hernia develops again, requiring the repair to be re-performed.
- Adhesions – The success of surgical mesh relies on the body’s tendency to form scar tissue around the implant, strengthening the hernia repair. When too much scar tissue grows, it can interfere with organs, disrupting their function and even fusing organs together.
- Obstruction of bowels – Overgrowth of scar tissue can lead to an obstruction in the bowels. This can lead to a dangerous blockage, which in turn can lead to a perforation. Because of the seriousness, a bowel obstruction needs to be repaired by surgery.
- Migration of mesh – In some instances, mesh has become detached from the repair site to other parts of the body. This causes multiple complications in that the original hernia is left without repair plus the mesh often causes inflammation and other complications at its destination.
- Contractions – The material used for hernia mesh has the ability to shrink over time, causing pain and inflammation at the site, as well as other complications like mesh migration.
- Hernia mesh rejection – Less commonly, the body will fight the mesh rather than accept it. The immune system begins by attacking the mesh implant and then attacks the surrounding tissue as well. The only recourse is surgery to remove the implant.
What are the signs and symptoms of hernia mesh rejection and other complications?
Because the effects of a mesh complication can be so serious, it is important to see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms.
Signs of mesh rejection:
- Swelling, redness at incision site
- Fever, chills, or other flu-like symptoms
Signs of infection such as:
- Extreme pain at or near the site of the repair
- Pain, tenderness, swelling, or redness around incision site
- Fever, chills, fatigue
Signs of other complications:
- Any of the above symptoms
- Heavy bleeding
- Bloody urine
- Signs of fistula, including pus discharge
- Major bowel disruption such as distension, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme constipation
What to do if you believe your symptoms were caused by hernia mesh complications
Hernia mesh complications are potentially serious and can even be life-threatening so it is crucial to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms. If you are indeed experiencing medical problems because of the mesh, you should also speak with an attorney who specializes in this type of case. If your attorney is involved early enough, she may be able to work with you to direct your doctors or hospital to preserve evidence for your case, such as the removed mesh after a revision surgery.
Hernia repair surgery should be the beginning of physical improvement; when it turns out that hernia mesh is the cause of your physical impairment, be sure to speak with your doctor and schedule a consultation with a hernia mesh lawyer. Showard Law Firm is committed to serving the best interests of those who have been injured by a defective medical device and to pursuing maximum compensation, which can include reimbursement for medical costs, lost wages, mental and physical pain and suffering, and other losses caused by the injury. Call today to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Additional resources on signs and symptoms of hernia mesh complications:
- FDA, Hernia Surgical Mesh Implants, http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/HerniaSurgicalMesh/default.htm
- BMJ, Hernia mesh complications may have affected up to 170,000 patients, investigation finds, https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k4104