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Hernia mesh: A potentially dangerous material

If you've suffered an injury that has resulted in a hernia, one thing that surgeons may try is to help you heal with a hernia mesh implant. The trouble is that these implants can have a number of serious complications, leading to injury or even death.

Hernia mesh implants are used when hernias occur and organs, fatty tissue or intestines squeeze through the weak area. This causes a bulge, which may be visible externally. There are several kinds of hernias that may be treated with a hernia mesh.

What are some kinds of hernias treated with hernia mesh?

Some kinds of hernias that may be treated with hernia mesh include:

  • Inguinal, in the inner groin
  • Incisional, occurring through a scar or incision
  • Ventral, which occur in the ventral wall or general abdomen
  • Umbilical, which takes place at the belly button
  • Femoral, which occurs in the outer groin or upper thigh
  • Hiatal, which occurs along the stomach or diaphragm and inside the abdomen

You may not be aware of how common hernias are, but hernia repairs are common. There are around a million repairs each year and the majority are for inguinal hernias.

While it's possible to deal with a hernia with watchful waiting, surgical repair is common. With laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes a number of smaller incisions and then repairs the incision. Surgical mesh can be used but isn't always. In an open repair, the surgeon has to make a larger incision near the hernia. They may use surgical mesh or perform a primary closure without it.

Non-mesh repairs made up less than 10% of groin hernia repair techniques in 2000, showing how common it is to use hernia mesh. Surgical mesh repair isn't always suggested, though. There can be some significant complications. For example, some of the most common complications include:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Fluid build-up at the surgical site
  • A perforation of neighboring tissues or organs
  • An abnormal connection between the intestines, vessels or organs known as a fistula
  • Adhesions
  • Blockages of the large or small intestines
  • Bleeding
  • Mesh migration
  • Mesh shrinkage

Recalled or defective mesh products are most likely to cause problems for patients. Patients who have permanent hernia mesh implants may want to check recall notices or reach out to their surgeon to determine if the mesh needs to be removed or replaced. If they have been injured, they may be able to seek compensation.

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