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Symptoms and Complications of Hernia Mesh Failure

Updated: May 22, 2019

No surgery is risk-free, and this is especially true when foreign objects like hernia mesh implants are introduced. Poor implant design and other issues can lead to a wide variety of complications. As a result, patients are fighting back and taking hernia mesh manufacturers to court.

man suffering from hernia mesh failure complications

Spotting the Symptoms of Hernia Mesh Problems

Mesh implants can fail in numerous different ways, and each failure can have its own set of symptoms. Many hernia mesh symptoms can be vague, so it’s important that patients recovering from hernia repair surgery check in with their doctors any time there is pain, discomfort, or sustained illness after the procedure.

Mesh Migration and Mesh Rejection Symptoms

Two of the most concerning hernia mesh failure complications are those of migration and rejection. In a migration, the implant begins to physically erode in the body, allowing pieces to break away and move (or migrate) to other areas, including major organs. In cases of rejection, the body’s immune response recognizes the mesh as foreign and begins to react negatively, causing discomfort and illness.

Consult with your hernia surgeon if you start to experience symptoms like the following:

  • Pain (local or generalized)
  • Major bleeding
  • Blood in your urine (could be caused by migration to the bladder)
  • Tenderness, redness, and/or swelling around the surgical site
  • The formation of fistulas
  • Fever, chills, or other flu-like symptoms

Remember: Although rejection is likely to occur fairly soon after surgery, migration can occur long after implantation, due to long-term erosion of the mesh. Even if your surgery was years ago, seek help right away for any suspicious symptoms.

Other Mesh Failure Symptoms

Some of the most common complications related to hernia mesh use are adhesions, infections, and bowel obstructions. Each can be caused by surgical negligence (e.g., unsanitary conditions, improper techniques) or mesh product problems (e.g., hazardous materials, poor structure). An unhealed adhesion can cause agonizing abdominal pain, while a bowel obstruction or drug-resistant infection can be deadly.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Bloating or distension
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swelling, redness, or increased heat in the area of implantation
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Fatigue or malaise
  • Other flu-like symptoms

Hernia Mesh Complications Can Cause Lasting Damage

  • Adhesions: This is scar tissue that can cause serious problems if it is not completely healed and removed by the body. In severe cases, organs may grow together and stop functioning properly.
  • Hernia Recurrence: Mesh implants tend to have lower recurrence rates than other types of hernia treatments, but recurrence of hernias is still a common complication.
  • Bowel Obstruction or Perforation: Scar tissue can build up and block (obstruct) the intestines, making it impossible to pass stool. Perforations can result from untreated obstructions or from piercing by the implant itself.
  • Mesh Migration: This movement of mesh material to other parts of the body is due to erosion, shrinkage, or a badly secured implant. Depending on where the material migrates to, it can threaten the function of other major organs and leave the original site vulnerable to another hernia.
  • Mesh Rejection: This is an adverse reaction in which the body’s immune system attacks the mesh as a foreign object, resulting in pain and illness. Removal of the implant is necessary to prevent further damage.
  • Chronic Pain: This generic symptom can result from other complications or from issues like nerve compression. Lasting pain occurs in roughly 11% of hernia mesh surgery patients, and it’s a red flag that something should be investigated by a doctor.

Hernia Mesh Failures: a Troublesome Legal History

The surgical mesh used in hernia repair surgeries is no stranger to legal woes. In fact, numerous recalls dating back to the early 2000s have been issued for a variety of hernia mesh products, and more than 3,000 related lawsuits have appeared in federal court systems.

Notable Recalls

The companies that manufacture surgical mesh say they try to produce the safest, most effective products. Over the last two decades, however, hazardous hernia meshes have been called into question several times.

In the period from 2005-2007, manufacturer C.R. Bard was forced to recall and stop selling their Kugel Mesh implant due to significant concerns about bowel tearing. In 2012, Atrium Medical Corporation was ordered by the FDA to recall its C-Qur mesh implant due to a packaging flaw that made the mesh unusable. When further issues arose a few years later (2015-2016), a court would issue an injunction against the manufacturer prohibiting the production and sale of C-Qur mesh.

Perhaps one of the most terrifying incidents led to a recall of Ethicon’s Physiomesh. The physiomesh product was made primarily out of a composite plastic known as polypropylene. Unfortunately, the human body can have serious adverse reactions to polypropylene, and patients began to report serious injuries and illnesses. In 2016, the mesh was recalled due to evidence that it had caused infections, perforated patients’ organs, and migrated to other areas of the body.

Thousands of Mesh Implant Lawsuits Have Been Filed

With more than 3,000 product liability suits filed on behalf of victims of hernia mesh failure, the courts have necessarily consolidated many of the cases into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The cases are still considered separate (unlike a class action suit) but will be handled as a group by the same court. This streamlines things for the legal system and allows victims to seek justice independently and receive individual settlements for their cases.

If Your Hernia Mesh Has Failed, It’s Time to Talk to an Attorney

If you’ve been a victim of complications caused by unsafe surgical mesh, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries. At Saunders & Walker P.A., we specialize in helping victims hold irresponsible medical manufacturers accountable for their negligence. We’ll help you determine whether you have a case, explain your rights and obligations, and guide you step-by-step through the process of your lawsuit.

To schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer, contact us online or call (727) 579-4500.

Sources:

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-0691.2004.01014.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1743919108000320

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Saunders & Walker
3491 Gandy Blvd
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Phone: (727) 579-4500
Phone: 1-800-748-7115

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