Hernia Mesh Injury Lawsuits: The Issues

What is Hernia Mesh?

Surgical hernia mesh is sometimes used in lieu of traditional stitches alone when repairing abdominal hernias. Although using hernia mesh does appear to reduce the chances of the hernia returning, unfortunately, hernia mesh comes with its own set of problems. An abdominal hernia occurs when the intestines bulge through a weak spot in the wall of the abdomen. Instead of simply stitching up that weak spot, surgeons may use a woven sheet of flexible mesh to “plug” the hole or patch the weak spot. 

Hernia mesh gives patients more freedom of movement after the surgical procedure by allowing the tension created by the repair to be spread across the abdominal wall rather than being concentrated in one spot. Regarding cost, while synthetic plastic mesh adds approximately $100 to the total cost of the procedure, using biological mesh can add as much as $8,000. There are more than 350,000 hernia repair surgical procedures performed each year in the U.S. Using stitches alone is considered a less-invasive procedure, due to a much small incision, plus the risk of infection is lower with stitches only. 

What are the Hernia Mesh Injury Problems?

While hernia mesh may prevent the hernia from recurring, there are many hernia mesh injury problems which can, in some cases, be very serious. Hernia mesh adhesion occurs when the mesh adheres to the bowel or intestines, causing them to form scar-like tissues which can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction or an intestinal surgery when the mesh fuses the intestines together. Although hernia mesh manufacturers have developed different materials and coatings meant to prevent adhesion, the problem still occurs in some patients. 

A bowel obstruction is dangerous; if left untreated, such an obstruction can cut off the flow of blood, causing part of the intestines to die. Sometimes, the hernia mesh can perforate the bowel or entrap entire loops of the intestines. The symptoms of bowel perforation include nausea, rigidity of the abdomen, severe pain in the abdomen and vomiting. A bowel perforation is a life-threatening medical emergency.   

Infection is another hernia mesh injury problem, and while antibiotics can treat minor infections, a deep infection centered around the hernia mesh is much more difficult to treat. In cases of serious hernia mesh infection, antimicrobial treatments and surgery to remove the mesh are often necessary. Symptoms of a mesh infection include flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, as well as significant inflammation. 

Among some people who receive a hernia mesh implant, the immune response can be triggered, causing the body to reject the mesh. Those who have redness, tenderness, pain and/or extreme swelling at the surgical site may have hernia mesh rejection. Finally, the hernia mesh can detach and migrate following hernia mesh surgery. If this happens, the hernia mesh could migrate through the abdomen, causing adhesions, fistulas, bowel obstruction or perforation and abscesses.  

Are There Specific Hernia Mesh Injury Dangers?

Hernia mesh injury dangers and complications can occur shortly after the surgical procedure or years later, although one 2016 study found that complications from hernia mesh increase over a five-year period.  In fact, out of 3,242 participants in the hernia mesh study, 1,050 required another surgical procedure.  In one case, an Ethicon Physiomesh hernia mesh implant detached and migrated to the patient’s intestines, resulting in surgeons having to remove the hernia mesh as well as a part of the patient’s intestines. Patients who experience any of the following should contact their doctor immediately and/or go to the Emergency Room for treatment: 

  • Abdominal “stiffness;”
  • Flu-like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and a high fever;
  • Excess drainage or redness at the incision site;
  • Excessive pain;
  • Excessive swelling in the area or bruising of the area, and
  • Difficulty urinating or passing gas.

Depending on the severity of the hernia mesh complication, the mesh may need to be surgically removed, or a surgery may be necessary to treat a fistula or an adhesion. In the case of bowel perforation, the damaged bowel section may need to be removed.

What is the FDA’s Stance on Hernia Mesh?

Based on an analysis of hernia mesh done by the FDA, which included any adverse event reports on hernia mesh as well as peer-reviewed scientific literature, the agency found that a significant number of complications related to the use of hernia mesh have occurred. Some hernia mesh products have had so many adverse event reports, the mesh was recalled. The FDA found that recalled mesh products were the primary cause of bowel perforation and obstruction complications.  As of this date the following hernia meshes have been recalled: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh, Atrium C-QUR mesh, and Bard Davol Kugel Patch.

Have Hernia Mesh Injury Lawsuits Been Filed?

There are currently more than 3,000 hernia mesh injury lawsuits filed in the United States. One hernia mesh lawsuit resulted in a $1.5 million-dollar verdict, and another resulted in a $184 million-dollar settlement. As of April 2018, there were nearly 800 hernia mesh lawsuits pending in federal MDLs, targeting two hernia mesh manufacturers—Atrium for its C-QUR Mesh, and Ethicon for its Physiomesh. The first Ethicon Physiomesh MDL trial is set for September 16, 2019, and no dates have been set for Atrium’s C-QUR cases. It is expected that the number of hernia mesh lawsuits will continue to grow.

Should I Speak to a Hernia Mesh Injury Lawyer?

If you have suffered a hernia mesh injury issue, it could be beneficial for you to speak to a Sullo & Sullo hernia mesh injury attorney. Our highly skilled product liability lawyers understand the complexities of these type of cases, and know you have a relatively short window of time in which to file your hernia mesh claim due to the statutes of limitations. Our Hernia Mesh Attorneys will thoroughly evaluate the facts of your hernia mesh case in order to help you make the best decisions.

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