Infection is unfortunately a common side effect among people who have had hernia mesh surgery. This can occur in the days following the surgery or can happen months after the surgery when the body has an adverse reaction to the synthetic substance that has been implanted. There are numerous different signs that the patient is suffering from an infection. One or more of these symptoms after the surgery should be enough for the patient to seek medical help. The problem occurs when the patient begins to suffer these symptoms months removed from the operation. Then, it may take some doing for their physician to figure out that they have an infection from their hernia mesh.
In some people, surgical mesh can trigger responses from the body such as calcification, fibrosis, inflammation (or foreign body reaction), thrombosis, and infection. Hernia mesh rejection is a very serious matter. Victims need to learn of the signs of a hernia mesh infection as well as the signs of hernia mesh rejection. 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.
What are the signs of a hernia mesh infection?
- pain and swelling, often chronic pain
- Redness of skin
- Flu-like symptoms
- Seroma- lack of healing
- dental problems
Pain from mesh infection
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.
Flu Symptoms from mesh infection
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
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.
Why Hernia Mesh Becomes Infected
A 2015 study conducted for the NIH looks at some of the causes of infections in hernia mesh surgery. It specifically finds that polypropylene mesh is one of the leading causes of infection. Specifically, the anti adhesive coating on the polypropylene mesh makes it more likely that the patient will develop an infection. The more surface area the hernia mesh has, the more likely it is that it will cause an infection.
Polypropylene hernia mesh had been advertised as inert, meaning that it cannot be the host of an infection. However, practice has revealed that infection can grow on and around the hernia mesh, placing the patient in danger. With regard to Atrium’s C-Qur hernia mesh, it has its own separate issues that cause infection. This particular mesh is coated in fish oil gel. This makes it more prone to cause infection in the human body. In a 2012 study, 15 of 16 rats that were given C-Qur hernia mesh developed infections.
The Hernia Mesh Infection Rate
First, let us start with a little more information about how many patients suffer from an infection in the days after their surgery. The NIH study cited some figures that show an elevated infection rate in hernia operations. Some figures had placed the chance of an infection rate at 7-8% in open incision inguinal hernia surgeries and at roughly 1-2% in laparoscopic ventral and incisional surgeries. However, the NIH study detailed a rate of 9-18% for the former while reporting roughly the same infection numbers for laparoscopic ventral and incisional surgeries.
The Symptoms of a Hernia Mesh Infection
The closer you are to the surgery, the easier it is to diagnose a hernia mesh infection. In most cases, you will be experiencing some symptoms close to the surgery site, even if your infection develops long after the surgery. There are many possible signs that you are suffering from a hernia mesh infection. Here are some:
- Fever – Fever is generally a sign of any type of infection. When you have a sustained fever over 100 degree fahrenheit that will not go down, it can be a symptom that something is wrong with your body. An infection causes a fever because something called pyrogens are created by the infection. They eventually travel to the part of your brain that regulates your body’s temperature and cause it to elevate.
- Pain – When there is an infection in your body, it will often be accompanied by pain. Bacteria will generally stimulate neurons which then produce pain. In other words, the pathogens of the infection act on your nerves to cause a feeling of intense discomfort. You may also feel something less than intense pain that can resemble tenderness when you touch the area. When the pain goes from mild to more severe, it may be a sign of an infection when the sensation occurs near where the hernia occurred.
- Redness of the Skin – Many times, a patient will have red skin around the site of the surgery. It is common for skin to turn red after an incision before it heals. However, when the redness persists, it can be a sign that something is wrong. This can be characterized by the skin becoming a brighter shade of red. This is a sign that, not only is the wound not healing, but that it is getting worse.
- Inflammation – When the body is asked to accept a foreign substance, it will always become inflamed. Some level of inflammation is always to be expected after a surgery at the incision site as the skin must recover and bond. However, you can usually expect the level of inflammation to recede in the days after the surgery. When the inflammation persists and grows worse, it can be a sign of an infection.
- Flu-like Symptoms – Some of the most difficult symptoms of an infection to detect are the ones that are not accompanied by any one of the four symptoms detailed above. You may feel body aches, chills or nausea as a result of the infection. These are common responses of the body to the bacteria of an infection when it is trying to fight off their effects. The problem is that these symptoms alone may not be associated with a hernia mesh infection.
There are more rare side effects of a hernia mesh infection. These can include dental problems, such as brittle teeth. You may also have a fluid buildup at the site of the incision. Finally, one can also suffer from swollen lymph nodes that are a sign that the body is trying to fight an infection.
The Difficulties Caused By Hernia Mesh Infections
When the hernia mesh becomes infected, there is a significant chance that the mesh will need to be removed from the body. This will cause the need for at least one subsequent surgery. The more surgeries that a patient has, the higher the chance that they will suffer permanent consequences from their hernia mesh surgery. The problem is that the hernia mesh is not always easy to remove from the body. The mesh can be embedded in the surrounding tissue that has grown around it. As a result, it can be difficult to take the mesh out in one surgery, if it can even be removed at all.
Hernia mesh infections can not only impact the immediate surrounding areas, but they can also have effects on the abdomen and nearby organs. There can be permanent damage to the organs or even sepsis when the infection is not promptly treated. A hernia mesh infection can also damage and destroy nearby tissue and can even make a hernia worse. In extreme circumstances, an infection can even lead to death.
Hernia Mesh Infections Can Result from Defective Mesh
There are multiple ways that hernia mesh can be defective. First, hernia mesh can shrink or migrate to other places in the body, causing the patient internal damage and intense pain. Second, hernia mesh infections can result from a product defect.
Hernia mesh lawsuit
Numerous plaintiffs have filed lawsuits related to complications that they suffered from hernia mesh infections. These lawsuits are now a part of the multiple multidistrict litigations taking part around the country. For example, a plaintiff named Matthew Huff filed a lawsuit against Ethicon in federal court in Illinois for an infection he developed after receiving hernia mesh. The case was transferred to the Northern District of Georgia, which is where the multidistrict litigation is based. In addition, there are also mesh lawsuits against Atrium for infections resulting from the use of its C-Qur mesh. These cases are also based in the Northern District of Georgia. Some of the first hernia mesh lawsuits will be proceeding to trial this spring.
If you have received hernia mesh in a surgery and have developed an infection, it may be a result of defective hernia mesh. Contact a hernia mesh lawsuit lawyer to learn more about your legal right. You may be eligible for substantial financial compensation. You can schedule a free consultation with a hernia mesh lawyer to discuss your case.