Over one million hernia repair surgeries occur annually in the United States, and hernia mesh is used in 80% of those procedures. Hernia mesh is a medical device that supports and stabilizes weakened and damaged tissue caused by a hernia. It’s supposed to help the affected area heal post-surgery.
However, many patients report complications, chronic pain, and injuries after receiving hernia repair surgery involving surgical mesh. Additionally, the abundance of recalls and reports of defects have made these devices a target for many product liability lawsuits.
What Causes Hernia Mesh Injuries and Complications?
Surgical mesh is intended to strengthen hernia repair, prevent hernia recurrence, and reduce a patient’s recovery time. However, when complications occur, hernia mesh may exacerbate the hernia and cause new issues.
Many hernia mesh complications are caused by:
Hernia Mesh Migration
One of the many desired characteristics of hernia mesh products is that they remain in place after being implanted. Mesh migration occurs when the medical device moves from the original implantation site to another part of the body. It may happen soon after the hernia repair or years later.
An inflammatory response to the mesh can cause migration issues. Mesh movement can also result from a lack of adhesion to the patient’s tissue. It may have been secured at one point but became unattached due to overexertion or pressure.
Hernia Mesh Erosion
Some surgical mesh may erode or break down over time due to the materials it’s made of, such as polyester or polypropylene. An inflammatory response to the foreign medical device may cause this process.
Alternatively, the mesh may erode into nearby organs due to migration when the mesh dislodges and moves, causing chronic pain and other issues.
Hernia Mesh Shrinkage
Once implanted, surgical mesh can shrink in the body. Heavy materials, mesh types, and anchoring types may cause this issue. It can cause chronic pain due to the mesh pulling the tissue and nerves tighter.
Hernia Mesh Adhesion
After hernia mesh implantation, scar tissue may form around the implant and join it with a nearby organ or tissue. This can cause severe pain and death of the affected tissue.
Hernia Mesh Hardening
Over time, the hernia mesh may harden and become rigid, causing the hernia repair to fail. This is common in mesh devices made of polypropylene. If an immune response is triggered, the body may attack the mesh, changing its composition to a hardened state. This can lead to nerve damage, severe pain, and other complications.
What Types of Injuries and Complications Are Commonly Reported After Hernia Mesh Repairs?
Hernia mesh is a foreign object implanted into a person’s body. They are often made of synthetic materials such as polypropylene (PP) and expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). It’s no surprise that complications can arise when such products are introduced into someone’s body.
Some of the most common side effects, injuries, and adverse events reported after hernia mesh implantation include:
Perforations are openings or holes in nearby organs or tissues generally caused by the trauma of surgery, hernia mesh migration, or defective mesh. The hernia mesh tears into nearby internal structures, causing damage.
Some symptoms of bowel perforation after hernia mesh implantation include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Internal bleeding
Perforations are common in the bowels (e.g., the intestines), bladder, and abdominal organs. The openings can cause leaks into the affected organ, leading to infection.
When hernia mesh adheres or migrates to different organs, it can cause obstructions, leading to long-term complications. The scar tissue that forms around the mesh can block vital passageways, including the bowel.
If the patient doesn’t seek immediate medical attention, the blockage could prevent liquids and food from passing and limit blood flow, causing parts of the intestine or colon to die.
Some symptoms of bowel obstruction include:
- Stomach pain
- Swollen abdomen (bloating)
Obstructions can lead to perforation, leading to life-threatening infections. A surgeon must repair these blockages, and the surgical mesh is removed if it’s the cause. Because mesh adherence is typically the cause of obstruction, this surgery can be difficult to undergo due to the need for additional tissue removal.
An infection can occur due to:
- Bacteria entering the surgical site
- Non-sterile surgical mesh
- Defectively designed mesh
- Hernia mesh migration or erosion
- A side effect of other complications, such as obstructions and perforations
Some side effects of infection include:
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness
- An abscess (pus) around the hernia repair site
Getting an infection treated quickly is important because it can lead to other complications and emergencies, such as sepsis.
If someone’s pain lasts for over three months, they’re suffering from chronic pain. This pain can last for years and may be sporadic or continuous.
Hernia mesh patients may experience chronic pain post-surgery due to damage to the muscles, nerves, and skin caused by the operation. However, it’s often related to polypropylene mesh implants, which frequently erode into adjacent areas. Other causes include an immune response to the mesh implant and nerve compression caused by mesh shrinkage.
Treatment options may include anti-inflammatory medications and prescription painkillers or injections. If the symptoms of hernia mesh pain persist, patients may require surgery to remove the mesh.
One of the main functions of hernia mesh is to prevent hernia recurrence. And while many hernia surgical repairs are successful, others fail – and the hernia returns. You may experience a bulge at the initial surgical site and pain.
A recurrent hernia can happen for several reasons, including:
- Surgical error
- Defective mesh
- The composition of the mesh
- Weak tissue
- Overexertion from physical activities
- Weight gain
When hernia recurrence occurs, you may need hernia revision surgery.
After a hernia mesh surgery, an accumulation of fluid may develop at the surgical site – known as a seroma. It may happen several weeks post-surgery. Seromas can occur due to tissue disruption during the hernia repair process.
A seroma may appear as a swollen mass under the skin and will likely be tender to the touch. You may notice a clear discharge near the surgical area. If the discharge contains blood, releases an odor, or changes color, it may be a sign of infection. If untreated, you could develop an abscess, which puts you at risk of developing sepsis.
A fistula is an abnormal connection or pathway between two internal body parts. Mesh surgery patients may experience this abnormality due to infection or mesh erosion, shrinkage, or migration. When the mesh disrupts internal structures, it can potentially create conditions allowing fistulas to form.
Patients who develop fistulas may have to have the mesh removed and the fistula cured.
Which Hernia Mesh Devices Have Caused Injuries?
Many hernia mesh products have been recalled or known to cause serious injuries or complications – leading to product liability lawsuits. Negligence is an underlying factor in most of these cases.
However, strict liability also applies, which involves three causes of action: defective design, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn. Many plaintiffs allege one or more of these issues in their complaints.
The hernia mesh lawsuits based on defective design are filed when the medical device’s design is inherently dangerous.
Other causes of action allege a manufacturing defect, where a line or batch of products was affected by contamination or low-grade materials.
Failure to warn (marketing defects) lawsuits allege that the manufacturer knew of the side effects, complications, and risks associated with their mesh products. However, they released them for consumer use and failed to provide appropriate warnings.
Some of the hernia mesh devices that have caused adverse events and/or been recalled include:
- Bard 3DMax Mesh
- Bard Ventralex ST Hernia Patch
- Bard PerFix Plug
- Bard Ventrio ST Hernia Patch
- Bard Composix Mesh
- Bard Composix Kugel Mesh products
- Versatex Monofilament Mesh (Medtronic)
- Ethicon Proceed Mesh
- Ethicon PhysioMesh Flexible Composite Mesh
- Covidien Parietex Mesh
- Gore DualMesh Plus
- Atrium ProLite Mesh
- Atrium ProLoop Mesh
- Atrium C-QUR Mesh
- Gentrix Surgical Matrix
Thousands of other mesh products have been recalled or linked to severe side effects in affected patients. If you learn that your hernia mesh implantation has been recalled, contact your medical provider to discuss your concerns. You may need to undergo surgery to remove the defective product and mitigate any further complications that could occur.
Contact Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC For Help After Suffering a Hernia Mesh Injury
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries or complications after undergoing hernia repair surgery involving surgical mesh, contact Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC for help. You may qualify to file a hernia mesh lawsuit.
Our hernia mesh injury attorneys are dedicated to helping victims recover fair compensation from negligent manufacturers who place defective medical devices on the market for consumer use.
Product liability cases – particularly those involving medical devices – are complex. They often require the assistance of medical experts and other specialists to evaluate the circumstances of your injury and prove that the mesh implant was the direct cause.
You only have a limited time to take legal action pursuant to your state’s statute of limitations, so call us as soon as possible so we can preserve your legal rights to compensation.