About Hernia Repair

What are the different types of hernias?

A hernia develops when an intestine or tissue squeezes through a weak section in the surrounding muscle area. The most common types of hernias develop in the abdominal wall, sometimes appearing as a visible bulge.

Hernias are caused by a consistent pressure directly impacting a weakened or open space in the tissue wall. There are many different types of hernias, but some are more common than others.

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia, which generally occurs in men. They develop in the inner groin, where the intestine or bladder pushes through the muscle in the abdomen.

Umbilical Hernia

Umbilical hernias develop during the postpartum period, or after a woman has had many children. An umbilical hernia occurs at the belly button or naval when part of the small intestine passes through a weak spot.

Hiatal Hernias

Hiatal hernias occur inside the upper stomach, near the diaphragm. It develops when the stomach begins to push through the hiatus, which is an opening in the diaphragm connected to the esophagus.

Hernia bulges may be as small as a quarter or as large as a basketball. Pain, reduced quality of life and physical insecurities lead to a high rate of hernia repairs, which are often performed with surgical mesh.

Hernia mesh is considered a standard treatment.

By 2000, 90 percent of hernia repairs used mesh.

In the past few decades, there has been an increase in the use of polypropylene or plastic meshes. Studies show these synthetic meshes are associated with a higher failure rate.

Hernia Mesh Complications

What is hernia mesh?

Hernia mesh, also known as surgical mesh, is a medical device implanted into the upper stomach, abdomen or groin. It’s used to support weakened tissue, or the close an opening within the damaged muscle that allows a hernia to pass through.

Studies have linked surgical mesh to a lower rate of hernia recurrence. For some, however, the risk of failed mesh significantly increases and causes serious, life-changing hernia mesh complications.

Hernia Mesh Failure Symptoms

Studies show more than one-third of hernia surgeries may result in complications.

Severe pain and continuing infections are two side effects commonly associated with hernia mesh complications. In some cases, people may experience more than one symptom of hernia mesh complications.

How can I tell if I have failed hernia mesh?

Hernia mesh complications may be easy or difficult to identify, depending on the severity of the issue. 

1. Pain & Discomfort

The most common sign of hernia mesh complications is pain and discomfort, which may be accompanied by bruising or swelling. These symptoms may linked to a skin rash, usually occurring near the bulge or incision.

Depending on the type of hernia, pain may occur near the stomach, abdomen, groin, leg, or testicle. In some cases, tenderness and pain may be the only indicator of hernia mesh complications.

2. Bleeding & Infection

Chronic infections are a clearly identifiable complication of hernia mesh. Some infections may be severe, causing patients to see redness and feel heat coming from the area of repair.

Hernia mesh may also lead to an increased risk of seroma, which is when fluid builds near the implant site. The buildup of fluid may cause secretions, which potentially could potentially indicate an infection.

3. Bowel Obstruction

An inability to use the bathroom, caused an obstruction, could be linked to hernia mesh complications. Bowel obstruction is blockage that develops in the large or small intestine, causing difficulty with urinating or defecating.

A bowel obstruction may be caused by an adhesion, which occurs when scar-tissue or loops of the intestines adhere to mesh. In more severe cases, a removal of the bowel may be necessary.

4. Erectile Dysfunction

People with hernia mesh complications may experience a change in sexual functions, characterized inability to become physically aroused. More specifically, men with mesh repair for inguinal hernias report erectile dysfunction, loss of sensation and difficulty achieving orgasm.

Some patients also reported swelling, slight pain, harness and a reduction in testicle size. Research published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows hernia mesh complications may reduce blood supply to the testicles, which may have to result in testicular removal.

5. Hernia Recurrence

Research shows hernia recurrence is less likely when hernias are repaired with mesh, but it is possible for a hernia to return. A variety of hernia mesh complications, such as migration, adhesion, fistula and perforation, may lead to recurrence.

There are a number of long-term risks associated with hernia mesh, according to a study published in JAMA. After a hernia mesh surgery, a non-healing wound may develop and the following surgeries could require longer recovery times.

FDA Hernia Mesh Recall

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received a number of adverse event reports linked to hernia mesh complications, causing the agency to initiate device recalls for manufacturers marketing flawed or dangerous mesh.

In 2014, the FDA issued a safety update to warn patients about packaging issues, poor performance, and adverse events. The agency has overseen the recalls to in an attempt to reduce harmful effects of hernia mesh complications.

Hernia Mesh Revision Surgeries

Hernia mesh complications can be mild, moderate or severe. Regardless of pain levels, hernia mesh removal or revision surgeries may be recommended.

For many patients without insurance or a steady income, medical bills from hernia mesh complications can be costly. Though additional surgeries may be necessary to improve quality of life, patients can’t always afford necessary scan to justify the hernia mesh revision.