Mesh, used to repair hernias, is commonly made from synthetic or biologic materials. But a recent hernia mesh study concluded that synthetic mesh had a higher failure rate than biological mesh, specifically in contaminated incisional hernias. 

About the Hernia Mesh Study

Incisional hernias, which occur through an incision or scar in the abdomen, are a common type of hernia injury. The hernia mesh study, originally published in the British Journal of Surgery in Sept. 2017, investigated the risk of complications caused by five types of hernia mesh.

Mesh may be synthetic, often crafted from a plastic known as polypropylene. Mesh may also be coated with collagen, or fatty acids, which are intended to prevent adhesions. The researchers analyzed how mesh complications, such as incorporation, shrinkage, and adhesions, developed in 136 rats.

Types of Mesh

  • Permacol™ (cross-linked collagen)
  • Strattice™ (non-cross-linked collagen)
  • XCM Biologic® (non-cross-linked collagen)
  • Omyra® Mesh (condensed polytetrafluoroethylene)
  • Parietene™ (polypropylene)

Types of Complications Analyzed

  • Incorporation of mesh
  • Shrinkage of mesh
  • Adhesion coverage
  • Adhesion strength
  • Histology

Researchers concluded "the use of synthetic mesh to repair a potentially contaminated incisional hernia is not supported unequivocally, and may lead to a higher failure rate. A biological mesh might be considered as an alternative."

Hernia mesh may fail and cause other complications, such as intestinal tearing, inflammation, bowel obstruction, nerve damage, and autoimmune reactions. Despite the inherent complications such as chronic pain, synthetic mesh did remarkably well with a 63.7% market share in 2016.

About Hernias

When organs and tissues are displaced due to weakened muscle walls, a hernia develops. Though common, they don’t get better with time and are often treated surgically with hernia mesh implantations.

Incisional hernias can occur after abdominal hernia surgery and may develop months or even years after the initial surgery. Though repairing an incisional hernia is common practice, high rates of readmission mean less than desirable outcomes after surgery.