In some people, surgical mesh can trigger responses from the body such as calcification, fibrosis, inflammation (or foreign body reaction), thrombosis, and infection. Victims need to learn of the signs of a hernia mesh infection. Hernia mesh infection can be devastating as it can’t be treated with antibiotics and typically requires invasive and painful corrective surgery. According to research, 1-8% of mesh hernia repair surgeries result in infection with the risk influenced by factors like the type of mesh used, the surgery technique, patient comorbidities, and more. Unfortunately, hernia surgery that is initially successful isn’t guaranteed to remain so. While most people develop a mesh infection within a few weeks or months of surgery, late onset mesh infection can happen up to 7 years after hernia repair.
Signs of hernia mesh infection
When hernia mesh becomes infected, prompt medical treatment is necessary and this usually involves a corrective surgery. It is important that victims are aware of the signs of hernia mesh infection Hernia mesh infections usually come with several symptoms that indicate something is wrong. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment right away. You may also be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment and pain in a hernia mesh lawsuit.
Chronic or recurring pain is the most common symptom of a mesh infection as well as other serious complications of mesh implantation. This pain is usually localized to the area of the hernia such as the lower abdomen or groin. Up to 50% of hernia repair patients experience chronic pain caused by scar tissue that has developed around the mesh or nerve damage from the procedure. The pain of nerve damage, scar tissue, or an infection can be debilitating and make it difficult to perform daily activities.
Symptom of a mesh infection : Chronic Local Inflammation
A swollen or tender abdomen after hernia repair surgery is a sign of inflammation. Many types of hernia mesh are made from polypropylene which can cause internal inflammation. This inflammation is expected and it’s necessary to promote tissue growth so the mesh can bond. Some people experience chronic or persistent inflammation, however, that leads to long-term abdominal tenderness and pain. If the area around the hernia repair remains warm to the touch, tender, and swollen, it may be a sign of an infection.
Signs of hernia mesh infection –Improper Healing
Infected mesh can prevent the incision site from healing correctly and may also prevent the hernia from healing. You may notice a seroma, or a buildup of fluid at the incision. This seroma can be messy, tender, and painful and keep the tissue from healing.
Warmth at the Incision Site
An infection in the body generates heat that can be felt at the incision site and the skin over the hernia mesh. If the area around your mesh feels warm, especially when combined with other symptoms, the mesh may be infected.
An infection often comes with flu-like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever. These symptoms develop as the body’s immune system responds to the infection but the immune system can’t handle a deep infection around hernia mesh, especially involving the development of a biofilm. Flu-like symptoms often come with tenderness and heat around the surgical site and potentially other symptoms like chronic inflammation, pain, and dental issues. If you get flu like symptoms you know this could be a sign of a mesh infection.
Dental Problems | A little known sign of a mesh infection
It’s unknown why but severe dental problems have been linked with hernia mesh infection. If you experience a tooth infection, dental pain, and teeth that have chipped or become brittle, it may be a warning sign of infected mesh. Numerous people who have had a polypropylene hernia mesh implanted have developed unusual dental problems like cracked teeth, teeth that fall out, and receding gums. It is very crucial that mesh victims are aware of all potential signs of a hernia mesh infection.
Other Signs of Infection | Signs of hernia mesh infection
While less common, there may be other symptoms of a hernia mesh infection. Some people develop a discharging fistula (an abnormal connection between organs) or an abscess in the abdomen. Very rarely, some patients also present with osteomyelitis, a bone infection which happens when the infection travels through nearby tissue or the bloodstream.
How a Hernia Mesh Infection Is Treated
When a mesh-related infection is suspected, an ultrasound or other imaging technique can help diagnose an infection. Treating an infection with IV antibiotics typically has a very poor outcome due to the response of the bacteria to the polymer of the mesh which creates a thick capsule around the mesh. Once an infection is established, this capsule prevents the penetration of any antimicrobial medications into the infection. Staphylococcus spp. is also frequently involved in mesh infections and this bacteria produces a biofilm on the mesh. Biofilms are highly organized bacterial colonies that are highly resistant to antibiotics. A biofilm protects the organisms from antibiotics and the body’s immune system and requires removal of the mesh.
Depending on the type of hernia mesh, drainage and antimicrobial medication together may be enough to treat the infection but surgically removing the mesh is usually the best option.
Infection Isn’t the Only Serious Complication of Mesh Surgery
Unfortunately, mesh infection isn’t the only potentially serious complication of mesh repair. About one-third of people who undergo hernia repair surgery suffer some complication. Excessive pain after hernia mesh surgery is the most common complaint but other major mesh complications (surgical mesh side effects) can include:
- Adhesion. This is scar tissue that glues tissues together and often comes with severe pain. Mesh adhesion can also cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction.
- Bowel obstruction. This can happen when mesh adheres to the intestines. Mesh can also cause obstructions in other areas of the body if it migrates. A bowel obstruction can cut off blood flow and cause part of the intestine to die. Bowel obstructions require immediate treatment and sometimes surgical removal of a portion of the intestine.
- Perforation. Sometimes a mesh product erodes or punctures the bowel, abdominal wall, or other organ. When the bowel is perforated, it allows fecal matter and bacteria into the abdominal cavity, causing a life-threatening type of inflammation and potentially sepsis.
- Mesh rejection. Sometimes the body rejects the materials in the mesh.
- Migration. Mesh sometimes detaches after surgery and migrates to another area of the abdomen. This can cause an abscess, fistula, adhesion, or obstruction.
- Hernia recurrence. While hernia mesh has reduced the rate of recurrence in patients undergoing hernia surgery, it’s still possible for a hernia to come back after surgery.
If you suffered an infection or other serious complication after undergoing hernia mesh surgery, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Compensation normally occurs after a surgical mesh victim files a hernia mesh lawsuit. An experienced hernia mesh attorney can help you explore your options and protect your legal rights by filing a hernia mesh lawsuit.