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Understand hernia mesh and its risks before surgery

A hernia can be both painful and debilitating. This medical condition occurs when an organ pushes through the tissue holding it in place within the body. Most of the time, hernias affect the abdominal organs, although it is possible to have a hernia near the navel or groin, as well as the upper thigh area.

A hernia won't go away on its own, which often means a person must have surgery to address the issue. People don't usually die from a hernia, but they can die as the result of a poorly-performed surgery.

Surgeons repairs hundreds of hernias every day

Hernias are relatively common medical issues. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes there are more than one million hernia repair surgeries performed each year in the United States. Many times, this involves a surgeon repairing weak muscles near the hernia site. Many times, despite surgery, people experience recurring hernias in the same area.

When the hernia is in the groin area, surgical mesh is commonly used in the procedure. As many as 90 percent of hernias near the groin involve surgical mesh. The mesh, made from animal tissue or synthetic materials, may be a permanent part of the body — an implant. Other kinds of mesh dissolve and absorb into your body as the tissue heals.

The use of surgical mesh helps reduce the risk of recurring hernias. However, the mesh isn't foolproof. While it can help improve patient outcomes and decrease recovery times, it can also cause problems of its own.

Hernia mesh can fail and cause additional issues for patients

Not all kinds of surgical mesh are made equally. Some surgical mesh products have been subject to federal recalls due to issues with their performance. Surgical mesh can cause bowel perforations, potentially leading to fatal infections. Other times, mesh can cause bowel obstructions, interfering with normal digestion.

Some patients experience ongoing pain as the result of hernia mesh implants. Still others develop serious, even life-threatening complications. The rate of occurrence for these side effects and failures is somewhat high, so your doctor and surgeon should discuss risks and other options with you before scheduling surgery.

For those impacted by a failed mesh implant or a recalled mesh product, there may be options for compensation. Your doctor or the hospital involved could face medical malpractice claims if you were not properly advised and warned about the risks of the surgery. The same is true if the mesh used was already subject to a recall or if your surgeon did not properly perform the operation. You shouldn't have to pay for the costs associated with a surgical mesh failure.

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