Hernia mesh has been billed as a quick and easy way to fix a hernia with minimal recovery time and complications. The reality is far different for many patients who have experienced significant side effects and serious complications following hernia repairs.
Many will never be the same again after hernia mesh failure. The makers of hernia mesh are now facing tens of thousands of lawsuits brought by patients who suffered side effects from their hernia mesh implants.
Our lawyers can help you sue the mesh manufacturer for damages that you have suffered.
What Is Hernia Mesh?
In the past, hernia surgery required an open incision. Surgeons directly repaired the damaged tissue using cotton or nylon sutures.
This was a much more involved procedure that required a hospital stay and more extensive recovery time. Scientists began to look for a quicker and more reliable way to repair hernias.
Hernia mesh is a synthetic material that is used to provide permanent reinforcement to damaged tissue. It is made out of polypropylene.
This is the same material that is used in such things as:
- Plastic packaging
- Battery covers and drink holders in cars
- Outdoor furniture
Surgical Mesh Can Be Dangerous Inside the Body
It does not take too much of a stretch of the imagination to understand how surgical meshes made from the same material as the things listed above can cause side effects when it is implanted inside the body.
While surgical meshes are effective in the majority of patients who have hernia repair surgeries, there is a high rate of complications. Nearly 4% of patients who have hernia mesh surgery will experience hernia mesh complications.
When a person has hernia mesh complications, they can be serious and long-lasting. It is not uncommon for a patient to never be the same again after hernia repair surgery.
Hernia Mesh Surgery
Hernia mesh will usually be inserted in a laparoscopic surgery. Hernia surgical mesh implants will be inserted through a small incision at the surgical site.
The plastic will be sown in over the open hernia to hold back the protruding tissue. Eventually, the tissue will grow into the plastic mesh, and it will strengthen the muscle. The resulting scar tissue will reinforce the sire of the hernia.
Hernia Surgeries Are Big Businesses for Hospitals
There are over one million of hernia repair procedures in the United States each year. Most of these are for hernias in the groin, but around 20% of these surgeries are for procedures in the abdominal cavity.
The total expenditure on hernia repair surgeries can top $48 billion. The most common type of procedure is laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair. The patient is in and out of the hospital in the same day, and the total procedure is completed in less than 45 minutes.
These are very profitable procedures for hospitals and doctors. The average hernia procedure runs around $8,000, depending on the hospital and market.
Doctors and hospitals have every incentive to perform hernia mesh repair as quickly as possible, so they can keep billing insurance and making money.
Quicker surgical procedures have high profit margins, and doctors may recommend this operation without considering the full range of risk factors in the patient and the possibility of mesh complications.
Hernia meshes are also very profitable for the companies that make them. Ten years ago, this little piece of plastic, that does not cost that much to make, cost patients nearly $36. With inflation, that price has increased.
You can imagine how the profit margins in making hernia mesh are very high.
Manufacturers Represent that Hernia Meshes Are Inert and Completely Safe
Mesh manufacturers tell you that hernia meshes themselves do not cause infection. They represent that synthetic mesh is a plastic and that is chemically inert. This means that it is not chemically reactive.
Therefore, in theory, hernia mesh would be resistant to infection. However, many researchers have challenged the claims that hernia mesh is not inert.
These researchers contentions are backed up by the numerous reports of hernia mesh complications such as, bowel obstruction, mesh migration, chronic pain and infections after a hernia repair.
Complications Related to Hernia Meshes
Even a repaired hernia can continue to present danger to the patient when there is a polypropylene mesh still inside the body. The human body does not always take well to a foreign substance inside it, especially one that is chemical and not biological.
In addition, the body is relying on the integrity of a synthetic substance. If the plastic breaks down over time (as plastic is known to do), it can cause other serious side effects inside the body.
Symptoms of Hernia Mesh Complications or Failure
Many patients will come home from the hospital or surgical center after their incisional hernia repair, and they will be feeling fine. However, hernia mesh can be a ticking time bomb in the body of some patients.
They may not even begin to feel mesh complications until months or years after their surgery.
Hernia mesh is a synthetic medical device and mesh failure often happens over time instead of right after the surgery. There is no exact timetable about when patients may begin to feel mesh complications from inguinal hernias. It could be a few weeks or a few years.
In laparoscopic hernia repair, the surgeon sews the surgical mesh to the abdominal wall. However, the mesh does not always remain in place.
After years in the body, the mesh can become deformed and shrink, and mesh erosion can cause complications. It may move from its location to the rest of the body. Not only does this mean that there may be a hernia recurrence, but it can also damage the tissue and organs that the mesh contacts.
Mesh migration can lead to hernia mesh punctures in internal organs, bowel obstruction or bowel perforation, jeopardizing their functioning.
One simply cannot predict how hernia mesh will hold up over time inside the body. Plastic is not always the most durable material, and it does not always remain intact over time.
Not only could the hernia mesh move out of place, but it could also disintegrate into larger or tiny pieces. This can be dangerous because there are very small pieces of plastic mesh floating around the body. Each of these pieces can come into contact with a vital organ and damage it.
Any single one of these mesh fragments can cause serious complications and chronic pain. The problem is that it is difficult for doctors to locate every single one of the mesh pieces inside the body.
The plastic of the hernia mesh may not hold, leading to hernia recurrence. The surgical mesh itself may still not hold the muscle back from the abdominal wall. While there is still a relatively high rate of success for hernia surgery using mesh, there can be a failure in up to 15% of cases.
Defective mesh implants may not work as intended to close the open hole. Patients may feel a bulge at the surgery site, which is a sign that the hernia mesh repair has failed, and the hernia has returned.
If the failure was caused by defective mesh or hernia mesh failure, patients can receive financial compensation for the pain and costs associated with hernia recurrence via a hernia mesh lawsuit.
Hernia Mesh Rejection
Another of the many hernia mesh complications is a rejection of the mesh. The body may simply not tolerate an insertion of a product made out of synthetic chemicals.
The body’s immune system may consider this to be a foreign object. The immune system is trained to fight foreign objects, and it may go to work against the mesh. One of the most common side effects of hernia mesh rejection is the infection described below.
Mesh Related Infection
There are several types of hernia mesh infections that could place the patient in danger. First, the mesh itself can become infected, even though the manufacturers have promised that it is chemically inert. This can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Mesh infection is one of the most common side effects.
The most usual type of infection is when bacteria grows on the hernia mesh. This is not supposed to be one of the mesh complications because hernia mesh is supposed to be inert.
However, absorbable mesh has proven to be anything but inert. Some hernia mesh products have a higher risk of infection because of the way that they are made. In some cases, the rate of infection for individual mesh products can reach as high as 8%.
Hernia mesh infection side effects can include:
Hernia mesh can also cause a sometimes fatal bloodstream infection. In severe cases, the patient will require intravenous antimicrobial treatments to beat the infection.
Serious cases of hernia mesh infections may also require surgery. The doctor may need to remove the mesh because the infection could be critical.
However, the infection, plus the fact that the mesh could be intertwined with connective tissue and internal organs could make removal difficult. This can be complex abdominal surgery, and the doctor may not even know until they make the incision for the procedure.
Bowel Obstruction Complications
One of the many problems with hernia mesh is that it can adhere to the large or small intestine. When that happens, it can cause bowel obstruction. These are dangerous and life-threatening conditions.
Hernia mesh can also cause other damage to the bowels when it migrates out of place. One severe complication that hernia mesh can cause is bowel perforation. This happens when the hernia mesh either moves out of place or disintegrates.
Bowel perforation symptoms include:
- Appetite loss
- Chronic abdominal pain
Buildup of Scar Tissue
While hernia mesh surgery relies on scar tissue to repair the muscle, a buildup can be extremely painful. One major problem that results from scar tissue is when the patient develops adhesions and intra abdominal abscess.
According to the FDA, adhesions are when scar-like tissue sticks tissues together. The mesh can adhere to major organs or other tissue, forcing them together.
Adhesions can lead to post-operative complications that can include small bowel obstructions, pelvic pain and infertility.
Hernia Mesh Removal
After doctors have realized that the hernia mesh failed, they may need to perform additional surgeries to remove the hernia mesh. We use the plural of the word because one surgery may not be enough to completely remove the hernia mesh.
When the mesh has disintegrated into pieces, surgeons cannot always get all of it out of the body on the first surgery. It could require repeated surgeries and recoveries.
Even then, doctors may never be able to fully remove all of the pieces of the mesh from the body, causing the patient continuous and sometimes permanent abdominal pain.
Patients can suffer lifelong damages from chronic abdominal pain.
The Costs and Complications of Revision Surgery
Revision surgery is often more difficult than the first hernia. The patient is already dealing with weakened muscle, which may be harder to fix on subsequent tries.
In addition to the cost of the procedure itself, the patient is also dealing with other damages.
First, they have been in constant pain up until the time of the revision surgery. Second, they have suffered from a reduced quality of life from that continuous pain from the time that they have felt symptoms or the hernia occurs.
This could keep them from both enjoying life, and even earning a living. The costs of revision surgery are not just as simple as paying the surgeon. The patient will either need to undergo another hernia mesh repair or open hernia repair.
The Difficulties of Hernia Mesh Removal
Hernia mesh can be difficult to remove from the body, even when it does not disintegrate or migrate. The mesh can become intertwined with the muscle.
Alternatively, hernia mesh could adhere to internal organs, and it could be difficult to take the mesh out without damaging the organ. You cannot always assume that the doctor can easily reverse a hernia mesh procedure by easily removing surgical mesh devices.
This could also require several surgeries, or it may not even be completely possible.
What We Learn About Mesh Complications from Medical Adverse Event Reports
By the start of 2019, there have been over 139,000 adverse events reports filed with the FDA for mesh-related products. This number includes the failed mesh for pelvic organ prolapse.
This does not even capture the true number of people who have experienced complications from hernia mesh surgical repair. Many adverse medical device event reports were kept in a secret system that was not available to the general public.
According to the FDA, there adverse event reports included over 1,100 deaths associated with mesh products, including the products used for the common inguinal hernias.
You Have Rights When You Have Been Injured By Defective Medical Devices
Hernia mesh products are considered defective medical devices. This right is not just limited to recalled meshes.
When a manufacturer has sold you a defective medical device, they can be held legally responsible for it. First, you need to contact a lawyer to prove that the mesh was defective.
Here, there are several possible defects with the mesh:
- The design of the mesh material is defective because it can disintegrate, migrate or cause infections
- Hernia mesh makers knew of these dangers, yet they failed to pull the product from the market or warn the public of the problems
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
If you have been injured by mesh repair or recalled mesh products, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.
There are currently tens of thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits pending against the companies that sold this product that claim that the product is defective.
The mesh complications attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help. We have a long track record of helping injured clients hold companies responsible when they were sold defective products. Call us today at (800) 424-5757 or fill out a contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.