Hernia mesh complications may be painful—sometimes severely painful. They may require revision surgery. And the most dangerous hernia mesh complications can be deadly. People facing these complications may file hernia mesh lawsuits to cover their added medical expenses as well as to receive compensation for their pain and suffering.
More than one million hernia repair surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. Hernia mesh is used in more than 90 percent of those surgeries.
Hernia mesh complications include a range of symptoms and conditions from pain to infection to bowel perforation:
Revision surgery is required to correct many hernia mesh complications.
A mild infection is possible after any type of surgery, and doctors often treat a mild infection with antibiotics. But deep, chronic infections can develop around hernia mesh—sometimes right after surgery, but not always. Chronic infections may not develop until years after the surgery was performed. Chronic mesh infections are hard to treat. They require intravenous antibiotics, and patients may require additional surgery to remove the mesh. Symptoms of chronic hernia mesh infections include:
Mesh may become detached after surgery and travel (migrate) through the body. Sometimes the migration is not immediately detected. Mesh migration can cause immediate severe pain, but it also may not cause any pain or other symptoms until it leads to related damage, such as adhesions, fistulas, or bowel perforation or obstruction. Hernia mesh migration is more common when the original surgery was performed laparoscopically.
An adhesion is a band of scar tissue or scar-like tissue that sticks tissues together. Hernia mesh adhesions occur when the hernia mesh itself is involved—scar tissue connects the mesh itself to an organ, often the intestines. Mesh adhesions can develop into bowel obstructions and bowel perforations, which can be life-threatening. Severe pain may be the only symptom of hernia mesh adhesion.
Bowel obstruction is a dangerous and not uncommon hernia mesh complication. Certain recalled hernia mesh brands are a major cause of bowel obstructions, according to FDA reports.
If the implanted hernia mesh adheres (sticks) to the intestines, it can obstruct (block) the bowels. Mesh migrating to the intestines can also lead to bowel obstructions. Bowel obstructions are dangerous and painful and require immediate treatment. Left untreated, they may cut off blood flow, causing a section of the intestines to die. Bowel obstructions require surgery to correct and may involve the surgeon removing pieces of the intestines.
Hernia mesh can puncture or erode into the bowel causing bowel perforation (puncture or tear). When that occurs, bacteria and fecal material can leak into the abdomen and other parts of the body or blood, which can cause peritonitis (inflammation that is dangerous) and sepsis (blood infection)—dangerous, sometimes life-threatening, conditions. Symptoms of bowel perforation include:
Mesh failure occurs, as the phrase implies, when the mesh does not result in the expected benefit. It does not close or fix the hernia, so repeat surgery is necessary.
Rejection occurs when the body identifies the hernia mesh as a foreign substance, activating an immune system response. Mesh rejection requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of rejection include:
Hernia mesh was originally invented and employed because hernias repaired with only sutures (stitches), which were the standard before mesh was invented, often recurred. However, certain kinds of mesh are associated with higher-than-expected hernia recurrence, which necessitates another surgery.
Severe or chronic pain may be experienced after a hernia mesh procedure. Sometimes it is an indication or a symptom that points to a serious complication or problem, including those described here.
A fistula is an abnormal connection between two parts of the body. Fistulae may be caused by surgery or an injury. Hernia mesh migrations have been associated with fistulae. A fistula may lead to an abscess or infection. They may require antibiotics or surgery to treat.
A seroma is a pocket of fluid that builds up under the skin. Seromas can occur after surgery. They may resolve on their own, but sometimes seromas require draining if they are large or painful.
Physicians may diagnose hernia mesh complications based on symptoms and complaints reported by their patients. In addition, they may use tests, including blood tests, CT scans, and x-rays, to identify, confirm, or clarify suspected hernia mesh complications. Because some hernia mesh complications can occur years after the surgery, it is important to talk to your doctor if you experience telltale symptoms, which include those below, or any symptoms that you think they should know about (“better safe than sorry”):
Doctors may treat some hernia mesh complications with medications and some, such as seromas, may simply require an out-patient procedure to address. But others, such as bowel obstructions and perforations, hernia mesh migration or rejection, and severe infections, may require revision surgery, which may be more complicated and dangerous than the original hernia mesh repair surgery. If you have experienced hernia mesh complications and have been advised that you need hernia mesh revision surgery, or if revision surgery is scheduled, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us at 202-914-1454 or submit your case details online, and one of our attorneys will get in touch with you shortly.