Patients who have experienced complications, including chronic pain, bowel obstruction, or blood infections after having a hernia treated with a surgical mesh maybe entitled to compensation. Product liability lawyers are helping patients who were harmed by defective hernia surgical mesh implants.
The number of hernia patients who will eventually suffer because of a defective surgical mesh is unknown, but the number is clearly growing. Surgeons repair more than 600,000 inguinal hernias every year. In a large majority of those surgeries, the surgeon elects to implant a surgical mesh.
Not all surgical mesh devices fail, but when they do, patients suffer. At the very least,patients may need to undergo another surgery to remove the defective device. Before that surgery occurs, patients may experience serious (and sometimes life-threatening) symptoms, including sepsis, organ and tissue damage, and internal bleeding.
Hernia Causes and Treatment
Most hernias occur when intestines or tissues push through a weakness in the abdominal wall. The muscles and tissues of the abdominal wall normally keep the contents of the abdominal cavity in place, but a weakness in the wall may cause a bulge to appear when organs or tissues within the abdominal cavity push against it. In some cases, the bulge becomes a hole through which intestines, fat, or other tissues protrude.
Hernias typically occur in the groin (inguinal or femoral hernias), around the belly button(umbilical hernias), in the diaphragm (hiatal hernias), or in other parts of the abdomen(ventral hernias), including areas where surgery was performed (incisional hernias).
Hernias are common. They are most likely to appear after an activity that increases pressure on the contents of the abdominal cavity. Severe coughing, heavy lifting, pregnancy, constipation, athletic competition, and sudden weight gain are among the most common reasons that patients develop hernias.
Most hernias cannot be treated with medicine or therapy. Some patients wear a “herniabelt” or truss to ease discomfort, but those devices usually offer only a temporary respite from pain. Doctors might engage in “watchful waiting” when a hernia is causing a patient no distress, but when hernias become painful or create a risk of complications, they must be surgically repaired.
Surgeons repair hernias by returning the contents of the abdominal cavity to their natural positions. They may use stitches to close the hole or to strengthen the weak muscle. In some cases, surgeons will make an incision so that they can repair the hernia directly (open repair surgery). In other cases, a surgeon might make small incisions so they can look at the hernia through a laparoscope while inserting surgical tools to perform the repair (laparoscopic surgery).
In either case, the surgeon may implant a surgical mesh to reinforce the area where the hernia occurred. Surgical mesh devices may be necessary if the hole or damaged muscle cannot be repaired with stitches, but some surgeons have been criticized for using mesh devices to repair smaller hernias when stitches alone may be adequate.
Hernias reoccur in a significant percentage of patients who have had them surgically repaired. The re-occurrence rate depends on many factors, including the type of hernia,the age of the patient, the activities in which the patient engages, and the surgeon’s skill. When hernias reoccur, they often do so within 5 years, but hernias can also reoccur many years after they are corrected.
Hernia Surgical Mesh Implants
Medical evidence suggests that a hernia surgical mesh device reduces the re-occurrence rate of hernias. A surgical mesh is implanted in the weak area of the abdominal wall. Surgeons hope that the mesh provides additional strength to resist a re-occurrence of the hernia.
A hernia mesh device might resemble a screen or it might be a solid sheet of material. Some are made from animal tissues while others are manufactured with synthetic materials.
While hernia mesh devices may reduce the risk of a re-occurrence, that benefit must be offset against the risks posed by the devices themselves. As a growing body of evidence points to dangers involved in the implantation of hernia surgical mesh devices, some doctors are reevaluating whether their implantation should be regarded as a standard procedure. Doctors are also asking whether some mesh devices are better than others.
Risks Associated with Hernia Surgical Mesh
A recent study published in a leading medical journal concluded that implanting a hernia surgical mesh creates a risk of serious complications. That risk becomes progressively greater every year following surgery. Life-threatening complications include bowel obstruction, organ damage, internal bleeding, and blood infections. Other serious complications include adhesions (tissues sticking together) and chronic pain.
The study noted that some patients died when the mesh moved out of position or broke.The deaths occurred when part of the device punctured a vessel or perforated the bowel. Other patients with life-threatening complications survived, but only after additional surgery. Patients who had a surgical hernia repair without a mesh implantation were much less likely to have serious complications from the surgery.
In response to that study, an editorial in the same journal noted that the benefits of hernia surgical mesh implants are partially offset by mesh-related complications, and concluded that the “benefits of mesh for reducing the risk of hernia recurrence or the long-term risks of mesh-related complications are not known.” In other words, patients must weigh the potential advantage of reducing the re-occurrence of a hernia by implanting a mesh against the elevated risk that the mesh itself will cause a serious health problem.
Defective Hernia Surgical Mesh Devices
Some surgical mesh devices used in hernia repair have been recalled. A recall, however, only protects patients who have not had a device implanted. Patients who had a hernia repair using a defective device must live with the risk that the device will fail,exposing them to a life-threatening situation.
It is likely that not all defective surgical mesh devices have been identified. At this point, product liability lawyers have seen a rising tide of complaints from patients about the following devices:
- Atrium Medical Corp.’s C-Qur hernia mesh
- Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh
- Davol Bard devices, including Composix Kugel Mesh hernia repair patches and the PerFix Hernia Plug
- Novus Scientific TIGR Matrix Surgical Mesh products
Defects that affect one model of a hernia mesh product might not affect other models ,resulting in confusion for patients and doctors. Some defective devices have been recalled while others are still being marketed. Of course, by the time a defective mesh is recalled, it’s too late for the patients who have already had the mesh implanted.
Compensation for Hernia Mesh Implant Injuries
Patients who have experienced complications after a hernia surgical mesh implant that required treatment, including hospitalization for an infection or new surgery, may be entitled to compensation. Manufacturers can be held responsible when they manufacture a defective device or when they fail to warn patients about potential complications that the implant might cause.
Product liability lawyers who handle claims against medical device manufacturers can review the circumstances of a patient’s injury and provide advice about bringing a claim for compensation. Injured patients may be entitled to recover medical bills, lost wages,and compensation for pain, suffering, and disability that can be attributed to the defective surgical mesh implant.
Compensation claims are subject to strict deadlines. Patients may lose the right to compensation if they fail to act promptly after a defective surgical mesh implant caused complications. Affected patients should contact an experienced product liability attorney immediately if they suspect their health or the health of a loved one has been jeopardized following a hernia repair using a surgical mesh implant. The attorneys at Advocate Law Group have decades of experience handling product liability and personal injury claims. We work with leading product liability firms nationwide to help our clients obtain results. Contact us for a free case evaluation.