Hernia mesh has proven to be dangerous on a number of fronts. In addition to allergic reactions that patients could have and shifting of the hernia mesh, the composition and makeup of the mesh can cause poisoning. Specifically, the mesh can cause bacteria to enter the blood. The presence of bacteria can cause an infection which can lead to progressively worse problems such as sepsis, septic shock, and even death. If you have had hernia surgery with mesh implanted and have experienced a post-operative infection, it is vital that you contact a hernia mesh lawyer immediately to learn your legal rights.
What is Hernia Mesh Used For?
There are several different types of hernias as well as ways to repair the hernia. When a patient has a hernia, the muscles are protruding through a weakness in the muscle wall. In the past, the most prevalent way of fixing a hernia was to directly sow the hole. This led to a lengthier recovery time from the surgery. Hernia mesh became an alternative to this type of surgery. Instead of sewing the hole closed, surgeons would sew hernia mesh over the hole. There are some benefits to the use of mesh, primarily that the rate of recurrence of the hernia is lower than in surgeries where the hole is sowed shut.
The outcome after the mesh was implanted depended on the type of mesh. Certain meshes are biological and are degradable. When these types of meshes are used, healthy tissue grows around it as the mesh disintegrates. Other types of meshes are more permanent. Healthy tissue will still grow, but the mesh will remain in the body covering the hole. This type of mesh needs to remain strong and intact in order to perform its intended function.
What are the Different Types of Mesh?
The most prevalent type of surgical mesh is made out of a type of plastic and does not disintegrate. This material is called polypropylene. Hernia mesh manufacturers have stated that their product is inert. In other words, there would not be oxidation or degradation over the course of its lifetime. When hernia meshes oxidize and are exposed to other elements, they may change composition. This will lead to post-operative complications for a patient. Since polypropylene mesh is a foreign material, it is an ideal breeding ground for the colonization of bacteria.
Infections from Hernia Mesh
One of the possible complications for a patient is an infection. This is one of the more severe side effects that a hernia mesh recipient can experience. According to a 2007 paper, the infection rate among hernia mesh recipients can be as high as ten percent. While the risk of infection is most prevalent in the immediate weeks after the surgery, so long as the mesh is in the patient’s body, there is always the risk of infection. Generally, the more mesh that a surgeon uses, the higher the likelihood of an infection in the patient.
These infections may not be a one-time occurrence for the patient. Hernia related infections can be chronic and recurring. In that event, the infections become a debilitating, and perhaps a life threatening event. Beyond not being able to work or carry on normal life functions, a patient’s health can be severely degraded from these infections.
There are several different ways that a patient can contract an infection from hernia mesh. The first is through what is known as blood poisoning. This is when toxins from the infection reach the bloodstream. In addition, a biofilm can form on the hernia mesh. When this occurs, antibiotics will not make the infection go away, and surgery is needed to remove the mesh in order to prevent further infection.
The second type of infection is when the mesh shrinks or migrates. In this instance, it can perforate internal organs. When that happens, contents from the intestines and bowels can travel to the rest of the body causing a more severe infection.
Sepsis and Septic Shock
In the worst scenario, a patient with a mesh infection can experience sepsis. This occurs when the body releases chemicals in order to fight an infection. This stage is reached after the infection reaches the bloodstream. The body’s natural instinct is to do whatever it can to rid itself of an infection. Essentially, the immune system turns on itself in an effort to fight the infection. However, these chemicals that are released can have a major effect on the organs in the body. When these chemicals cause an imbalance in the body, it is called sepsis. This condition can lead to a failure of the body’s major organs.
When a patient experiences sepsis, it can possibly lead to septic shock if it progresses far enough. This is an extremely dangerous condition that usually causes death for half of the patients who have reached this state. When a patient experiences septic shock, the body cannot provide adequate blood to the organs and blood pressure becomes dangerously low. This can cause kidney failure, heart failure or multiple organ failure. This will require treatment in an ICU.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
There have been multiple lawsuits filed against manufacturers of hernia mesh. Most of these cases are early in their life cycles. There was a large suit against C.R. Bard, a manufacturer of hernia mesh, that settled in 2011. As part of the settlement, C.R. Bard paid $184 million to settle 2 600 claims against it. Currently, there are also lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson, who is the manufacturer of Physiomesh, which is the highest-selling hernia mesh on the market. Atrium Medical is the other major manufacturer that is currently defending against litigation relating to defective hernia mesh. There are also thousands of cases filed against Bard / Davol as a result of allegations that their mesh is defective. The vast majority of the hernia mesh lawsuits result from mesh made of polypropylene.
If you have had a hernia where mesh was implanted and you have contracted an infection, you should contact a hernia mesh lawyer immediately. The surgical mesh attorney can discuss your legal case with you and inform you of the prospects for receiving compensation for your infection.