Over a million people a year undergo hernia repair surgery in the United States. A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. The most common types of hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach).
In conventional methods of hernia repair, the edges of the tear are stitched or sewn together to close the hole. Unfortunately, simple suturing often recreates the tension that created the hernia causing pain and a higher risk of recurrence. In 1984, at UCLA’s Lichtenstein Hernia Institute, they developed a “tension-free” mesh technique that is currently considered the gold standard of hernia repair by the American College of Surgeons.
In this procedure, repair is accomplished by covering the opening of the hernia with a patch of mesh, instead of sewing the edge of the hole together. The surgical mesh acts as a bridge or scaffolding for ingrowth of new tissue to reinforce the abdominal wall. Over time, the mesh is supposed to incorporate into the muscle layer, creating a very strong, permanent repair. In the standard Lichtenstein Repair, this mesh is placed between the layers of the abdominal wall. In laparoscopic repair, the mesh is placed behind the abdominal wall muscles.
The problem, however, is that since the development of the tension free technique we have learned that there are major complications that can occur with the mesh itself. For example, the mesh can fold in on itself, collapse, “ball-up,” migrate, or cause major infection. Here is a link to the FDA website describing some of these adverse events:
- Pain and infection
- Hernia recurrence
- Adhesions or scar-like tissue that cause tissue to stick together
- Obstruction of the large or small intestine
- Creates an abnormal connection between your organs, vessels, or intestines (fistula)
- Build-up of fluid at the surgical site (Seroma)
- Creates a perforation in neighboring organs or tissue
- It can erode into the bowel and affect the large intestine
- The mesh can shrink or migrate causing further damage
If you have experienced complications due to the insertion of hernia mesh, please call and speak with an attorney at Cowper Law LLP. We are currently filing cases against Bard, Ethicon, Atrium, and Covidien/Medtroinc. We are actively involved in the litigations in the N.D. of Georgia (Ethicon MDL), State court in Rhode Island (Bard mini-MDL), District of New Hampshire (Atrium MDL).