In today’s world, hernias are very common, and the majority of them are treated with a surgical hernia mesh implant. More than one million hernia repairs are performed each year in the United States, however not all surgeries are successful. Some people are left with complications due to the hernia mesh used to repair a hernia, which could require additional surgeries.
Hernias are caused by a consistent pressure directly impacting a weakened or open space in the tissue wall. There are many different types, however, the most commonly develop in the abdominal wall, sometimes appearing as a visible bulge.
Hernia mesh is a medical device implanted into the upper stomach, abdomen, or groin. It is used to support weakened tissue, or to close an opening within the damaged muscle that allows a hernia to pass through.
Although some studies show that surgical mesh can result in a lower rate of hernia recurrence, for some the risk of failed mesh significantly increases and causes serious complications such as severe pain and continuing infections. The American College of Surgeons found that major complications occurred about five percent more often in procedures using mesh than without. Additional hernia mesh failure symptoms include:
- Pain and discomfort, possibly accompanied by bruising or swelling that could be linked to a skin rash. Pain may occur near the area of a hernia.
- Bleeding and infections, sometimes severe, can cause patients to see redness and feel heat from the area of repair. There could also be a buildup of fluid that may cause secretions, which potentially could indicate an infection.
- Bowel obstruction could indicate hernia mesh complications if there is a blockage that develops in the large or small intestine. The obstruction could be caused by adhesion, occurring when scar tissue or loops of intestine adhere to the mesh.
- Erectile dysfunction can occur as a result of hernia mesh complications.
- Hernia recurrence is less likely if repaired with mesh, but it is possible for a hernia to return. A variety of complications, such as migration, adhesion, fistula, and perforation could lead to recurrence.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received a number of adverse event reports linked to hernia mesh complications. As a result, a recall has been announced for a variety of flawed or dangerous mesh.
In some instances, the hernia mesh can be rejected by the body. How often a body rejects a hernia mesh and suffers complications are low, but not nonexistent. In a study following hernia mesh repair patients for five years, complications occurred in 5.6 percent of open mesh repair surgeries and in 3.7 percent of laparoscopic mesh repairs. Between 10 and 12 percent of patients required reoperation because of hernia recurrence, despite using hernia mesh.
If someone has complications from a hernia mesh, surgery to remove or revise the mesh may be recommended by a doctor. Infection is often the most common cause of revision surgery and the removal of a hernia patch. According to the American Journal of Surgery, infection was the reason behind almost seven out of every ten mesh removal procedures.