When patients undergo an operation to repair a hernia, oftentimes doctors will insert mesh in order to assist with fixing the weakness. This mesh is stitched in as a means of repair. However, this mesh is a foreign substance that is being implanted into the body. In some instances, patients’ bodies have had an adverse allergic relation to the insertion of this mesh. This reaction can be prolonged and can lead to additional side effects. There have been numerous mesh lawsuits that have been filed by patients who have suffered prolonged allergic reactions to hernia mesh. If you have suffered such a reaction, you should immediately contact an attorney to have a conversation about your legal options.

What is a Hernia?

A hernia is when a patient’s internal organs or tissue end up bulging through the muscle and into the abdominal wall or groin. Left untreated, a hernia will likely get worse over time. The symptoms can deteriorate and lead to more serious complications if it is not fixed. Hernias are fixed by returning the organs to their original place. This is generally done through a small incision and minor surgery. The patient is able to return home the same day as the procedure. According to the FDA, there are over a million hernia operations performed in the United States every year.

There are several different types of hernia operations. One of the hernia operations is a hernioplasty, which involves a mesh repair of the hernia. In this procedure, the surgeon will cover the open muscle as opposed to stitching it shut. The muscle will be covered with a mesh. After the surgeon makes several small incisions, the mesh is sewn onto the healthy surrounding muscle. The mesh will strengthen the weaker areas and stronger muscles will grow around the mesh and gradually heal the hernia.

What is Hernia Mesh and How is it Used?

Hernia mesh is a type of surgical mesh. These are in the form of a sheet and are made out of various materials. The most common type of hernia mesh is made out of polypropylene. This is a synthetic resin that is generally used in ropes and fabrics. Polypropylene is a manufactured substance that has chemical as well as physical properties. There are also meshes that are biological and degrade over time. Some meshes are made out of animal tissue, which makes them more compatible with the human body. The use of hernia mesh has increased exponentially since 1980 and this product is now used in the overwhelming majority of hernia surgeries performed in the United States today.

Side Effects from Hernia Mesh

The insertion of a foreign object into the body has the possibility to cause side effects. Some surgical meshes, such as transvaginal mesh, have caused severe side effects for patients who have had them implanted. There are more severe side effects of hernia meshes including infection and bowel obstruction. In addition, the mesh can shift position in the body causing additional complications. One of the possible side effects is an allergic reaction to the mesh. Since the mesh is made of polypropylene, it is possible that the body may not receive the mesh without a reaction.

Allergic reactions can be classified into different categories. There are minor reactions that generally feature inflammation at the site of the mesh as well as other difficulties in healing including:

  • Burning at the mesh site
  • Fluid buildup
  • Itches and rash
  • Flu-type symptoms and a cough or cold

There are also prolonged and adverse allergic reactions to the mesh. Sometimes, this reaction can lead to intense abdominal pain at the mesh site. While this reaction may be short-term, sometimes it is a pronounced problem that does not resolve itself. At a certain point, symptoms of the allergic reaction can reach the point where they are life-threatening. In a worst-case scenario, patients may require additional surgery to remove the mesh and either insert a different type of mesh or repair the hernia a different way.

Costs and Expenses from Side Effects

When one experiences symptoms from an allergic reaction to a hernia mesh, the costs go beyond just the pain and suffering. There are also medical expenses from the additional care that is needed to deal with the problem. In addition, there is also possible lost wages or use of sick leave if one cannot go to work due to the pain. In addition, there may be emotional distress from the complications and a spouse can suffer damages as well.

Physiomesh is one of the types of hernia meshes that was previously on the market. It was manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. In 2016, there was a worldwide voluntary market removal issued for Physiomesh. The market removal was due to a high rate of recurrence of hernia among patients who received the mesh as well other complications.

Lawsuits Against Manufacturers

There is an increasing number of Physiomesh lawsuits filed against manufacturers of these hernia meshes. According to the Legal Examiner, at the start of 2018, there were over 500 Physiomesh open lawsuits filed against manufacturers of the product and the number has been increasing. Currently, these cases are a part of multi-district litigation that is pending in the Northern District of Georgia. This is not class action litigation, but these cases have currently been joined together for the discovery phase of the legal proceedings. The cases have been recently filed and just began discovery in 2018. This phase generally takes several years and is also accompanied by expert witness discovery, which will take the better part of 2019. Accordingly, these cases are still very much in their early phases.

If you have had a hernia surgery and have had hernia mesh implanted and are experiencing side effects, it is critical that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A lawyer can assess the facts of your case and let you know of your legal options as well as your prospects of achieving a legal recovery in your case.

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/herniasurgicalmesh/default.htm

http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/655360/Healthcare/Hernia+Mesh+Complications+Allergy+To+Mesh+And+The+Bodies+Response

https://f1000research.com/articles/6-685/v1