Hernias have plagued mankind for as long as there has been a mankind to plague. Hernias are painful, disruptive and have the ability to completed throw ones day to day life into a painful disarray. However, it seemed that things got a lot easier when a mesh was first introduced to aid in hernia repair.
The hernia mesh is a sterile, woven synthetic plastic-like material that goes either over or under the area of weakness. It is then secured with a few sutures at which point the mesh begins to act as “scaffolding” for new growth of a patient’s own tissue, which eventually incorporates the mesh into the surrounding area.
Sounds great right? It was; until everybody started to get sick and the lawsuits started to roll out.
As it stands there are dozens of recalls and pending lawsuits the world over against the manufacturers of surgical hernia mesh. However, this does beg the question as to what exactly is wrong with the mesh and what complications can arise?
The hernia returns: While most people want to believe that hernia operations are a “one and done” kind of deal, the recurrence of a hernia is the most common complication of any hernia surgery, including those which involve the use of a mesh. This can be caused by improper technique during the surgery, shrinkage of the mesh or an instance of the mesh moving or migrating. Unfortunately, second, third and subsequent hernia operations in the same location almost always prove more challenging and are more prone to failure.
Infection: The hernia mesh is specifically designed to be implanted; however, once it is, your body will still recognize it as a foreign object. This reaction to the mesh inhibits your bodies’ natural defense mechanisms against germs, which increases the likelihood of infection of the mesh and its surrounding tissues.
Intestinal and skin complications: Once placed inside the abdominal cavity, it is possible for the men to become stuck to part of the bowel. While normally not a problem, sometimes the mesh can cause a kink in the intestine and cause a blockage, which requires additional surgery. When the mesh is placed outside the abdominal cavity, it lessens the risk of this happening, but it may result in erosion through the skin.
Nerve damage: Surgery is painful and hernia surgery is no exception. However, in most instances, this pain usually diminishes. If pain persists, however, it could be a sign that a nerve is trapped by either the mesh or the sutures.
When it was first introduced, the hernia mesh was the best thing to happen in the realm of hernia surgery, however, in light of all of this new information coming in, it might be worth a second thought. If you or someone you know suffers from a hernia and are looking to surgery, we encourage you to discuss all of your options with your doctor to make sure that you choose the right treatment.