It may not come as a surprise to learn that 90 percent of all hernia repair surgeries in the U.S. utilize hernia mesh. What may surprise you is that 37 percent of all the people that do have a hernia mesh undergo some form of complication.
In this post, we are going to take a look at the risks and complications surrounding hernia mesh surgeries. We will then go on to look at where you may stand if you are one of the unlucky people that have suffered because of a hernia mesh operation.
While mesh can aid in the prevention of a hernia returning, the mesh can also cause serious complications. In fact, the FDA places the blame on recalled meshes for the reports of mesh complications.
What Is Hernia Mesh?
It is probably best to examine precisely what hernia mesh is. Hernia mesh is a surgical implant that helps to reinforce damaged for torn tissue around hernias. Surgeons will carefully place mesh on the area that accompanies the hernia and its surrounding areas.
The mesh itself is generally made from woven fibers or synthesized from a compressed sheet of material. From time to time, manufacturers will also produce mesh from the tissue of animals. The mesh is used to help with the holding of damaged tissue and give it strength during the healing process. A surgeon will attach a mesh with glue, stitches, or staples.
Why Is Surgical Mesh Used?
It is also essential to understand the motivation behind the use of hernia mesh. The main reason the mesh is used is to prevent the hernia from returning.
While the use of hernia meshes may dramatically reduce the chance of a hernia returning, there are other risks involved, which will be touched on later.
Hernia Mesh Complications
Unfortunately, over the years, hernia mesh surgery has been causing its fair share of problems, and this has been on a global scale.
There have been a series of issues attached to hernia mesh complications, and these issues include:
- Small & large intestinal blockage
- Mesh migration
- Mesh shrinkage
According to the FDA, a majority of the complications that arose with surgical mesh are to be associated with recalled mesh products. Recalled mesh products also come with their own complications, such as:
The fundamental issue with the majority of defective meshes was to do with their bio-compatibility. Rather than the implants becoming inert once at home in the body, the mesh devices were found to have manufacturing issues that resulted in incompatibility with the human body.
Once the implant was seated, it was only a matter of time before an immune system attack was triggered. Once triggered, this resulted in a considerable amount of complications and, of course, inflammation.
This was not the only issue, with some meshes, the outer coating of the mesh degraded very fast, and this caused the mesh to abnormally attach to tissue or even organs.
Unfortunately, this is not where the complications stop when it comes to hernia mesh complications. There have also been cases of chronic mesh infections the world over. Infections like this eventually result in the removal or replacement of the mesh. These infections can cause some nasty symptoms like:
- Flu-Like Symptoms – Nausea, fever, and chills usually rear their faces when your body is fighting an infection.
- Inflammation – Polypropylene that is used in the mesh naturally causes inflammation. There are times when the inflammation doesn’t disappear, and this is usually a large cause for concern.
- Chronic Pain – Almost half of hernia mesh patients report debilitating pain after their surgery. The pain is generally caused by nerve damage or even scar tissue.
- Dental Issues – Why it may seem surprising, a very high number of patients with an infected surgical mesh had dental issues. Complaints included infected teeth and teeth that were weak and chipped easily.
While some of these symptoms can occur within 90 days after surgery, on average, an infection takes a lot longer to show its face.
A study conducted at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte N.C. found that on average, infections in the mesh did not occur for 2.2 years after the surgery. The study found that patients were also treated needlessly with antibiotics for seven months, and some even underwent two ventral hernia repairs.
Out of all 161 patients, 90% had to have the surgical mesh removed, and all patients that had the Composix mesh that is manufactured by C.R. Bard had to have a removal due to infection.
It has also been found that fistulas can form on or around the mesh. These fistulas can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years to present and can cause some severe pain.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
While there are still many manufacturers are surgical mesh under a lot of scrutinies, and many of those are entangled in a web of legal battles at this very moment, there have been some rather notable cases of the decade. Below are just a few of them.
To this day, Atrium Medical has to face more than 500 federal lawsuits for their C-QUR surgical mesh products. These have now undergone consolidation into multidistrict litigation. The company is also said to be expecting additional filings for state and federal cases. The federal trials are due to begin at the beginning of 2020.
C.R. Bard has already paid out hundreds of millions of dollars for medical injury lawsuits and class-action lawsuits. These lawsuits are all connected to the company’s Composix Kugel mesh, transvaginal mesh, and other surgical mesh products.
To this day, C.R. Bard is currently facing almost 2000 federal lawsuits, with 200 of these lawsuits being filed in state courts.
Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson
Both Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson have undergone some of the most public lawsuits for both hernia and transvaginal mesh products. There are around 1400 federal lawsuits due to the injuries caused by their products.
Hernia Mesh Settlements
The past settlement figures that are shown below are concerning transvaginal, pelvic, and hernia meshes. The figures for these settlements may help to measure the expectations of future settlement figures.
In April 2015, Boston Scientific was forced to settle almost 3000 liability cases due to extreme complications with their transvaginal meshes. The company had to pay around $40,000 per case, which hit them for approximately $120 million. Six months later, in October, Boston Scientific also agreed to pay another $457 million to a further 6000 plaintiffs in compensation. In total, Boston Scientific has to part with around $576 million to 9000 plaintiffs in the space of 6 months.
A reasonably popular name in today’s article, C.R. Bard was forced to 3000 product liability cases in regards to complications with their hernia meshes. The case came to its end in August 2015 when each of the plaintiffs received around $67,000 in damages. In total, this cost C.R. Bard $200 million.
Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson
The first of the cases against these two giants was settled in 2017. This is the first of our payments that was verdict based, and a jury determined that the TVT-Secur transvaginal tape was causing issues. The issues caused were said to be severe and debilitating. This product was remarkably similar to the company’s Physiomesh Composite Mesh for a hernia. After the verdict of a $20 million payout was issued, the company removed Physiomesh Composite Mesh from the market.
Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson
Now we jump forward one year, and we see another case involving Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson. In this case, a verdict of $35 million was issued by an Indiana court for drastic complications in connection with the Prolift Pelvic Mesh. In this case, it had been reported by the plaintiffs that Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson had dramatically underreported the failure rate of the product and its potential to cause post-surgical complications.
If you have undergone hernia surgery at any point over the last decade and experienced complications, you should be thinking about filing a lawsuit for your discomfort and issues. You should also consider visiting a doctor if you have had a hernia mesh fitted in the last few years. As we have seen, it can, at times, take up to 4 years for symptoms to arise. So if you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned in today’s article, you should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.