The use of surgical mesh in hernia repair surgery (also referred to as hernia mesh) has been linked to serious complications, including bowel or intestinal blockage, adhesion of the mesh to the intestines, infection, mesh migration and rejection. These complications often require hospitalization and additional surgery. In rare cases, these complications can lead to death.
What Is Hernia Mesh?
Hernia mesh is a surgical implant used during hernia repair surgery to provide additional support to weakened muscle or connective tissue. Hernias occur when muscle or connective tissue weaken or develop holes, and an organ, intestine or fatty tissue squeezes through the hole or the weakened spot.
Hernia mesh is a screen-like device, made of either synthetic or animal-source materials. Hernia mesh products are manufactured by a number of companies, including Boston Scientific, Atrium Medical, Ethicon (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), C.R. Bard, and Covidien (a subsidiary of Medtronic). Modern experience with hernia mesh implantation dates back to the 1950s, but the use of hernia mesh did not become a standard method of repairing hernias until the late 1980s, with the introduction of new surgical techniques.
Hundreds of thousands of hernia surgeries are performed every year in the United States, and more than 80% of these surgeries now include the implantation of hernia mesh. Surgeons may implant either an absorbable or a non-absorbable hernia mesh. Absorbable mesh is designed to break down and disappear a short time after the surgery. But the non-absorbable hernia mesh is designed to be a permanent implant.
The use of hernia mesh products, such as Atrium Medical’s ProLoop and Ethicon’s Proceed, has been linked to a high incidence of adverse health consequences and complications, including:
- chronic pain
- adhesion (mesh adhering to an organ or scar-like tissue sticking two organs together)
- fistula (Abnormal connection between organs, vessels, or intestines)
- bowel or intestinal blockage
- hernia recurrence
- hernia mesh migration
- hernia mesh rejection
These are serious complications, often requiring hospitalization and additional surgery to correct the adverse impact on a patient’s health.
In 2014, due to the high number of reports of complications associated with the use of hernia mesh, the FDA issued a Safety Communication, in which it cautioned patients about the risks associated with hernia mesh products, and recommended that patients speak with their doctors about the pros and cons of using surgical mesh during hernia repair surgery.
There have been numerous recalls of hernia mesh products in the United States and abroad, including the June 2016 recall of Ethicon’s Physiomesh® in Canada and Australia and its voluntary withdrawal of the product in the United States in July 2015.
Complications and Long-Term Risks
Hernia mesh is known to be at risk of migration, rejection, and adhesion. Complications from the use of hernia mesh products like Medical’s ProLoop and Ethicon’s Proceed may lead to severe health problems, including bowel and intestine blockage, intestine adhesion, infection, and hernia recurrence.
The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons lists the following symptoms as associated with complications from hernia surgery involving hernia mesh:
- persistent fever over 101 degrees F
- increasing abdominal or groin swelling
- pain that is not relieved by your medications
- persistent nausea or vomiting
- inability to urinate
- persistent cough or shortness of breath
- foul smelling drainage (pus) from any incision
- redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger
- inability to eat or drink liquids
Hernia Mesh Adverse Reports
Although the FDA and its counterparts in other countries have not banned the use of hernia mesh, these agencies have received hundreds of reports about serious complications, and have issued numerous recalls of defective hernia mesh lots from several brands and manufacturers.
The FDA also issued a Safety Communication in 2014, informing patients about potential complications and recommending a series of questions that patients should ask their surgeons regarding the use of hernia mesh prior to hernia surgery, including a series of questions about complications associated with the hernia mesh the surgeon plans to use.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed in the United States against the manufacturers of hernia mesh, including Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson, C.R. Bard, and Atrium Medical. These lawsuits seek compensation for complications and injuries associated with the implantation of hernia mesh.
How We Can Help
If you have suffered serious health problems after hernia surgery involving hernia mesh, you may be entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs. Attorneys at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A. may be able to help you recover compensation if you suffered serious harm from hernia mesh. As a nationally recognized personal injury law firm and one of New Jersey’s largest law firms, Wilentz is committed to helping clients with their cases.
For a free consultation or more information about your legal options, please call the number below. Or, if you prefer to complete our free case evaluation form, our client relations representative will contact you shortly.