Hernia mesh, also known as surgical mesh, is a medical device often used in hernia repair. It’s implanted into a patient’s abdomen, groin, or upper stomach and is used to close openings in damaged muscle or support weakened tissue.
Studies have shown that surgical mesh can reduce the rate of hernia recurrence. However, some hernia mesh also has a high failure rate and can cause severe or even life-threatening complications. Sometimes symptoms of complications can arise months or years after the implant surgery. Patients may have extreme symptoms that are easy to identify or mild signs that are more difficult to diagnose. In some cases, it’s possible to have multiple symptoms simultaneously.
Following are six of the most common signs of hernia mesh complication.
1. Pain and Discomfort
Patients suffering from hernia mesh complications often report pain and discomfort near the abdomen, stomach, leg, groin, or testicles. They may also have a "stiff" feeling in the abdomen. These symptoms are sometimes accompanied by bruising and swelling.
Mild pain or tenderness may be the only symptoms of hernia mesh failure. In other cases, patients may experience a burning sensation around the surgical site or a bulging area that protrudes through the skin. Bulging may be caused by the mesh dislodging or migrating, which can cause inflammation and pain. It can also lead to an infection, which may trigger a burning sensation. Some patients also develop a skin rash, which typically occurs near the incision or bulge.
Nausea is a symptom of several different types of medical problems. However, when a patient has a hernia mesh, this can be a sign that something is wrong. For example, the mesh may have migrated to the intestines, creating an intestinal blockage. It could also have caused a stomach infection, which could inhibit digestion. Persistent nausea can lead to other health issues, like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
It’s common to feel fatigued while recovering from implantation surgery. However, a lack of energy may also indicate that the body is responding poorly to the implanted device. For example, patients sometimes have a negative reaction to polypropylene mesh. This can lead to oxidative stress, inflammation, and immune response. Patients with this reaction often feel fatigued as their bodies work overtime to fight off the infection.
Since chronic infections are often associated with failed hernia mesh, ongoing lethargy can be a symptom that something has gone wrong. In addition to lethargy, chronic infections can cause fever, inflammation, and other flu-like symptoms.
4. Constipation or Bowel Obstruction
Defective mesh along the abdominal wall can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation or the inability to pass gas. This is often caused by the pressure the mesh puts on the colon, small intestines, and stomach. It's more common among patients who have developed scar tissue from umbilical hernias.
Constipation can also lead to painful and potentially dangerous conditions such as fissures, hemorrhoids, or bloating. When patients have severe constipation, they may suffer from fecal impaction or rectal prolapse from straining to defecate.
In some cases, failed hernia mesh can cause a bowel obstruction, which is a blockage in the large or small intestine. This can create difficulty defecating or urinating, as well as nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, bowel removal may be necessary to treat this condition.
5. Erectile dysfunction
Mesh complications often lead to sexual dysfunction, particularly among patients with inguinal hernias. This may be a result of irritation or inflammation caused by the mesh or by a nerve getting caught in the device. In some cases, the spermatic cord can attach to the device, resulting in impotence.
Men with mesh hernia complications sometimes also complain of a loss of sensation and difficulty achieving orgasm. Other symptoms include minor pain, swelling, and a reduction in testicle size. Research also shows that mesh complications can reduce blood supply to the testicles, possibly creating a condition that requires testicular removal.
6. Hernia recurrence
While using mesh for a hernia repair generally reduces the chances of recurrence, in some cases, mesh complications can cause the hernia to return. It's possible for the mesh to detach after surgery and migrate through the abdomen. This can lead to serious issues like fistulas, adhesions, abscesses, bowel obstruction, perforation, and/or hernia recurrence.
Sometimes migration causes a significant amount of pain. In other cases, patients will be symptom-free until the detachment creates more significant problems. While detachment can be a cause of hernia recurrence, a patient's health and lifestyle can also factor in. This can make it more difficult to prove that this symptom is caused by hernia mesh failure.
Frequently asked questions about mesh complications
It's common for individuals who think they may be suffering from mesh complications to have concerns about their health, well-being, and the financial implications of the resulting issues. Following are some of the most common questions our team hears from clients.
What should I do if I have symptoms of mesh complications?
The most important thing you can do is take care of your physical health. If you believe you're having a complication from failed hernia mesh, follow up with your physician right away and be sure to follow all medical advice. If your doctor seems to brush off your concerns, consider seeking a second or third opinion. Do not put this off, as complications can become deadly if left untreated.
Can I sue for a hernia mesh complication?
At Cooney & Conway, we help individuals hold manufacturers accountable when they've been harmed by defective products. If you have suffered from hernia mesh complications, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
The first step is to request an evaluation with a member of our legal team. During this consultation, we’ll review the details of your medical history and determine whether a hernia mesh lawsuit may be the right path for you. To get started, complete our free case evaluation request form.