Surgical mesh implants are used to repair hernias that occur when a patient’s organs or tissue bulge through a tear or weak spots in an abdominal muscle. Unfortunately, many mesh products have failed, causing unnecessary pain and suffering, and putting patient lives at risk.
What Is a Hernia and What Causes It?
When a person’s organ, fatty tissue, or intestine pushes through an opening or weak area in the surrounding muscle, a hernia can result, often causing great pain and strain to the individual. Abdominal hernias are most common, including:
- Inguinal hernias in the inner groin
- Femoral hernias in the upper thigh/outer groin
- Incisional hernias associated with an abdominal incision or scar
- Ventral hernias in in the abdominal or ventral wall
- Umbilical hernias around the belly button
- Hiatal hernias along the upper stomach wall and diaphragm
Hernias can be caused over time by pressure and strain on the weak tissue or muscle. Less frequently, the weak area is present at birth. Factors such as obesity, lifting of heavy objects, constipation or diarrhea, persistent coughing and sneezing, or other conditions or activities that increase abdominal pressure contribute to the risk.
How Are Hernias Treated?
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, more than one million hernia repair procedures are performed in this country each year.
For patients who don’t exhibit symptoms or suffer complications, “watchful waiting” by a physician may be appropriate. The only means to correct a hernia, however, is through invasive laparoscopic or open repair. Because the rate at which hernias recur is so high, doctors choose to use surgical mesh implants to strengthen the affected areas.
What Risks Does Surgical Hernia Mesh Pose?
Surgical mesh implants, made of synthetic materials or animal tissue, are available in various sizes and forms of woven and non-woven sheets. The most popular surgical mesh products are constructed of polypropylene, a plastic found in countless consumer, industrial, and medical products.
Based on reports of adverse events, the FDA found that hernia mesh implants can cause:
- Bowel obstruction
- Mesh break down or disintegration
- Mesh migration
- Mesh shrinkage or contraction
The FDA noted that many complications related to hernias repaired with surgical mesh are associated with products that have been recalled:
- Atrium C-Qur Edge (recalled in 2013)
- Bard Ventralex ST (recalled in 2011)
- Bard Ventralight ST (recalled in 2012)
- Johnson & Johnson Ethicon PhysioMesh
Depending on the patient’s complications and situation, revision surgery may be necessary to remove the implant, replace it, and repair any damaged tissue, muscle, or organs. According to a February 2017 study published in JAMA Surgery, of the 3,242 surgical hernia mesh patients who participated, 1,050 required subsequent abdominal surgery, and the rate of complications increased over the course of five years
What Can You Do If You or Someone You Care About Is at Risk?
If you underwent surgery to repair a hernia using a mesh implant and have subsequently experienced the symptoms or complications described above, you may be entitled to damages for your pain, suffering, lost wages, and other harm.
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Complex Litigation Group are currently interviewing surgical patients across the U.S. who were placed at risk of infection and other harm due to defective hernia mesh implants. Please contact us today for a free consultation!