Surgical mesh is used routinely in laparoscopic and open hernia surgery at all hospitals in the nation. In fact, an estimated 90% of hernia repairs in the United States use mesh.
First, let’s mention a positive: mesh is associated with a lower recurrence rate of hernias. But even that benefit is being swallowed up as new surgical techniques are developed (the Desarda hernia repair method, for example). Theoretically, mesh strengthens the abdominal wall and invites body tissues to grow through it, integrating it seamlessly. But there are two main problems with most meshes used today.
- What the mesh itself is made of.
- The coating on the mesh.
What’s in Hernia Meshes?
From 2006 onward, a good portion of meshes used in hernia surgery was composite: a patch of woven fibers coated with an absorbable “barrier” film. Though brands and models differ, almost every mesh is made, at its base, of polypropylene.
What’s that? Oh, it’s just a plastic made out of petroleum, usually found in disposable water bottles.
In case you’re wondering, raw polypropylene resin, also known as PP, has a warning in its Material Safety Data Sheet NOT to use it for medical devices implanted in the human body. Many victims say that this mesh hardens (to the texture of a window screen), and it can cut or erode through tissue, nerves, organs, or anything in its way. It is not “inert” as manufacturers claim, and causes all sorts of damage to people who have it implanted.
The composite mesh “coating” is another problem. It is supposed to lower the risk of adhesion in patients. (Adhesion is when the mesh starts integrating or growing into places/organs that it’s not supposed to, usually the intestines.) However, we’ve found that this barrier layer takes between 6 weeks to several months to fully degrade, though the body tries to start healing right after surgery. That means the body CANNOT integrate the mesh into the wound during the critical post-op healing period, and when placed laparoscopically, it often scrapes against internal organs on the way to its final location, causing the very adhesion it was meant to prevent!
In addition, this “barrier film” was not adequately studied in clinical trials. Rather, it was placed on the market with FDA approval via the 510(k) PMA submission process. Unfortunately, through this process, medical devices can be FDA approved based on the fact that a previous, “similar” device was tested and approved. It undergoes little (if any) testing itself.
What Does Mesh Pain Feel Like?
- “A steak knife inside my groin.”
- “A constant aching, burning, and sharp stabbing pain.”
- “I felt like there was a red hot mass inside of me.”
- “The mesh they removed had set like concrete with serrated edges that [were] cutting into me.”
These are just a few of the comments you can read for yourself on an online patient forum dedicated to those seeking the removal of their hernia meshes. (Here’s another online survey, if you’re curious.) Post-herniorrhaphy pain syndrome, or inguinodynia, is pain or discomfort lasting longer than three months after hernia surgery.
This chronic pain is often disabling, changing a patient’s whole lifestyle. Victims may be unable to work, have limited physical abilities, and severe emotional and mental distress. This pain can be caused by any combination of these mesh side effects:
- Foreign body reaction
- Autoimmune disease
- Bowel blockage
- Meshoma (mesh shrinkage, migration, hardening)
- Nerve entrapment
What Can You Do?
The FDA’s MedWatch voluntary report is open to any person who has suffered harm at the hands of a product manufacturer. If you know what mesh is causing your pain, we strongly encourage you to submit a complaint.
Rhine Law Firm, P.C., is at the forefront of several hernia mesh class action lawsuits being filed nationwide. Founding attorney Joel S. Rhine has over 30 years of litigation experience in defective product cases and knows how to go after big pharmaceutical companies for justice.
If you or a loved one is victim to unrelenting hernia mesh pain, call us right now at (910) 772-9960. If your mesh was implanted after 2007, there’s a very good chance of compensation for your pain, suffering, and additional medical expenses.