If you’ve ever had a hernia, then you know how devastatingly painful they can be. For those who haven’t dealt with this issue, a hernia is when an organ, often the intestines or stomach, bulges through the surrounding tissue. This can cause extreme pain and a host of other issues. In rare cases, hernias can even be life-threatening.
For some, hernias can be treated with simple laparoscopic surgery, during with tiny incisions are made and a thin tool is used to make repairs to the tissue. In other cases, especially if the hernia is a larger one, recovery may need to be aided by a mesh to hold everything in place during the healing process.
Based on what is supposed to be used for Mesh sounds like a helpful medical device. Unfortunately many people have been injured by mesh that has been used in their hernia repair surgeries.
When Is Mesh Used?
While “hernia” is the general term used any time an organ bulges outside of the area they’re normally contained, there are several specific types of hernias. They can occur for a variety of reasons, but they often happen due to too much pressure being placed on the abdominal wall from lifting, coughing or even due to weight.
The most common kinds of hernias include:
- Inguinal (groin) hernias: Occur when the intestines or bladder breaches into the inguinal canal, in the groin area. These account for about 75 percent of all abdominal hernias, and occur much more often in men.
- Incisional hernias: Occur when the intestine breaches into the site of a past abdominal surgery. Often, this happens in older or overweight people who aren’t active enough after such an operation.
- Hiatal hernias: Occur when part of the stomach squeezes into the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes, call the hiatus.
- Femoral hernias: Occur when the intestine breaches into the femoral artery canal. These occur most commonly in pregnant or obese women.
- Umbilical hernias: Occur when the small intestine breaches the abdominal wall near or at the navel. These most often occur in newborns, obese women and women who have had multiple children.
Mesh could be used in any of these situations, depending on how severe the damage is to the surrounding tissue. However, these medical products carry some major risks.
Made from a Dangerous Material
In the early 1960s, a material called polypropylene was introduced. Since then, it and similar variations of the material have been used in the manufacturing of surgical mesh devices. The problem? These products can degrade over time and can cause very serious complications. As such, many experts say it should not be used for permanent implantation.
Technically, hernia mesh is not necessarily intended to be permanently implanted. Many of these devices were marketed to provide temporary support during the healing process following a hernia surgery. However, frequently the devices remain implanted instead of being removed after the hernia repair has completed healing.
The FDA has noted a variety of issues related to surgical mesh, including:
- Recurrence of the hernia
- Erosion of the mesh
- Obstruction of nearby organs
- Adhesion (issues with scar tissue around the mesh)
- Perforation (tearing) or nearby tissue or organs
- Fluid buildup at the surgical site
In some cases, the mesh could become detached from the original surgical site. If this occurs, it could migrate to other areas of the body, causing damage.
So What Can You Do?
If you have a hernia, talk to your doctor about all your options. Though surgery may be required, there could be alternatives to mesh, even if you’re dealing with a large hernia. If it’s decided that hernia mesh is required, check the FDA’s recall list to make sure the mesh being used in your surgery is not under recall.
Consult with your doctor to determine how long the mesh will implanted inside of your body. If your doctor plans to remove the mesh at a future date, speak to them about scheduling a removal procedure for when the device is no longer necessary. You should also have regular checkups with your doctor to make sure the mesh is working as intended.
If you are injured or made ill by your hernia mesh, a mesh injury lawyer can help you explore your legal options as well.