Hernia Mesh Complications and Problems

At Justice Hero, we are keenly aware of the complexities involved in hernia mesh complications. These issues can profoundly impact patients’ lives, necessitating a clear understanding of their nature and consequences.

The hernia mesh lawsuits involve seeking compensation for health damages allegedly caused by a medical product, highlighting the intricate process of proving product liability and the significant effects on affected individuals’ lives.

Take a look at the most common complications and problems of a defective hernia mesh below:

  • Pain: This complication, often a direct result of hernia mesh surgery, can vary in intensity. In some cases, it leads to chronic discomfort, significantly affecting daily activities and quality of life.
  • Surgical site infections: These occur at the operation site and can range from superficial irritations to more severe infections impacting the mesh.
  • Recurrence of hernia: Despite the use of mesh for hernia repair, there is a risk of the hernia reappearing, potentially requiring additional surgical interventions.
  • Adhesion: The surgical mesh may adhere to internal tissues, leading to discomfort and other complications.
  • Injuries to the bladder: During the hernia repair surgery, inadvertent damage to nearby organs, such as the bladder, can occur.
  • Vascular injuries: Similar to bladder injuries, these involve damage to blood vessels during hernia repair surgery, which can have serious implications.
  • Obstruction in the bowel: This serious issue arises when the surgical mesh impedes normal bowel function, leading to discomfort and potential health risks.
  • Migration of the mesh: Over time, the hernia mesh may move from its original position, potentially causing damage to surrounding tissues or organs.
  • Shrinkage of mesh: This can alter the support the hernia mesh provides, leading to complications like hernia recurrence or pain.
  • Bowel perforation: A severe complication where the surgical mesh punctures the bowel, often requiring urgent medical attention.
  • Bleeding: Post-surgical bleeding is a risk, particularly if vascular injuries occur during the hernia repair procedure.
  • Chronic pain: Long-lasting pain, distinct from immediate post-operative discomfort, can be debilitating.
  • Rejection: In some cases, the body may reject the hernia mesh, leading to inflammation, pain, and the need for further surgery.

These complications are classified into two broad categories: operative and post-operative. Operative issues typically stem from tissue damage incurred during the surgical process. In contrast, post-operative complications are often related to the mesh itself, including rejection, infection, or mechanical problems like migration or shrinkage.

Understanding these hernia mesh complications is crucial for patients who have experienced them and seek legal recourse. The challenges of hernia repair using surgical mesh are complex and often require careful legal and medical evaluation.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Hernia Mesh Problems?

The following are the most common symptoms of hernia mesh complications:

1. Pain and Discomfort

Patients frequently report discomfort following hernia repair surgery, with symptoms manifesting in various body areas, including the abdomen, stomach, legs, groin, or testicles. Often described as a “stiff” sensation in the abdominal region, these symptoms can be accompanied by bruising and swelling.

While mild tenderness might be the initial sign of hernia mesh failure, more severe cases involve a burning sensation near the surgical area or a noticeable bulge on the skin. This protrusion, potentially a result of mesh dislodging or migrating, may cause inflammation and pain. 

In some instances, a skin rash develops, typically around the incision or bulged area.

2. Nausea

Nausea, a symptom associated with various medical issues, can be particularly concerning for patients with hernia mesh. It may signal complications like mesh migration leading to intestinal blockage or stomach infections impacting digestion.

Persistent nausea could further lead to complications such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

3. Lethargy

Post-hernia repair surgery fatigue is expected; however, prolonged lethargy may indicate adverse reactions to the implanted mesh, like an immune response to polypropylene. This condition, often accompanied by oxidative stress and inflammation, can make patients feel persistently fatigued.

Chronic infections linked with hernia mesh failure may also manifest through ongoing lethargy, fever, and flu-like symptoms.

4. Constipation or Bowel Obstruction

Mesh defects along the abdominal wall can trigger gastrointestinal issues, including constipation or inability to pass gas, primarily due to mesh material pressure on the colon, small intestines, and stomach. This is more prevalent in patients with scar tissue from umbilical hernias. Constipation might escalate to conditions like fissures, hemorrhoids, or bloating.

In extreme cases, it can lead to bowel obstruction, a blockage in the intestines causing difficulty in defecation or urination, along with nausea and vomiting. Bowel obstruction may necessitate surgical repair.

5. Erectile Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction, notably in patients with inguinal hernias, is often a repercussion of mesh complications. This can result from irritation, inflammation, or nerve entrapment by the mesh placement. Sometimes, the spermatic cord gets entangled with the device, leading to impotence.

Affected men may experience loss of sensation, pain during intercourse, swelling, and reduced testicle size. In severe cases, compromised blood supply to the testicles might necessitate testicular removal.

6. Hernia Recurrence

Although mesh generally lowers the recurrence risk, complications can cause the hernia to reappear. Post-surgery, the mesh might detach and migrate, leading to serious complications like fistulas, adhesions, abscesses, bowel obstruction, perforation, or hernia recurrence.

Sometimes, this migration is painful, while other times, symptoms only emerge when significant issues arise. Factors such as overall health and lifestyle can influence hernia recurrence, complicating the attribution of this symptom solely to mesh failure.

Are There FDA Regulations and Warnings on Hernia Mesh?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a crucial role in overseeing the safety and effectiveness of hernia mesh products. Over the years, the FDA has issued multiple warnings and taken regulatory actions in response to the complications associated with hernia mesh. These include the following:

  • Recalls: The FDA has recalled several hernia mesh products due to higher-than-expected rates of complications, such as severe pain, infection, and hernia recurrence. These recalls often result from patient reports, clinical studies, and manufacturer audits.
  • Safety communications: The agency has released safety communications to inform healthcare providers and patients about the potential risks of hernia mesh. These communications often include guidelines on selecting patients for hernia mesh surgery and monitoring for complications.
  • Clinical data review: The FDA reviews clinical data submitted by manufacturers. If a product is found to have a high complication rate, the FDA may require changes to its labeling, issue warnings, or restrict its use.
  • Postmarket surveillance studies: The FDA may require manufacturers to conduct postmarket surveillance studies to monitor long-term outcomes and complications in patients who have received hernia mesh implants.
  • Public advisory panels: In some cases, the FDA convenes panels of experts to review safety data and provide recommendations on the use and regulation of hernia mesh products.

Through these measures, the FDA aims to ensure that the benefits of hernia mesh outweigh the risks, safeguarding patient health and guiding healthcare professionals in their clinical decisions.

Can Hernia Mesh Cause Long-Term Complications?

Hernia repair surgeries can indeed lead to complications that may not become apparent until years later. Patients need to be aware of this potential delayed onset, as these long-term complications can significantly impact their lives.

Hernia Recurrence

One notable long-term issue is the recurrence of hernias, especially inguinal hernias. Statistics indicate that around 16% of individuals aged 65 or older might need another hernia repair within a decade following their initial surgery. This recurrence can be due to a variety of factors, including the migration or shrinkage of the mesh over time.

Financial Impact

Patients experiencing late complications face financial burdens often due to lost work time and accumulating medical bills. These expenses can stem from additional medical appointments, potential surgeries for recurrence or other mesh-related issues, and the need for ongoing pain management.

Pain and Suffering

Apart from the physical discomfort, the emotional and psychological toll of dealing with chronic pain, repeated medical procedures, and the uncertainty of health outcomes contribute significantly to the overall suffering of the patient.

If you believe your long-term health issues are related to hernia mesh, we encourage you to contact us at Justice Hero. Our experienced legal team is ready to evaluate your case and guide you throughout the process.

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Case Status:
Ongoing (Top Settlement is $184 Million)

Ethicon, Atrium Medical, and Bard Davol

Bowel obstructions, infections, and death