5 Causes of Hernia Mesh Failure

Mesh failure occurs when the mesh used in hernia repair surgery fails to perform as it should and injuries result from it. A hernia occurs when soft tissue bulges through a weak spot in an organ or other tissue. In many cases, the hernia is significant enough to require repair surgery. To repair the hernia, mesh may be used because it is believed to prevent hernia recurrence more effectively than sutures.

But mesh also fails, and when it fails it does more than result in hernia recurrence, it can result in other mild to life-threatening complications. You should contact an experienced hernia mesh personal injury lawyer if you believe your mesh failed and, as a result, caused injuries that entitle you to compensation.

If you are anticipating hernia repair surgery using mesh or if you have had the surgery already and are experiencing more than anticipated discomfort and pain, then here are the five top causes of hernia mesh failure you should know about:

  1. infection;
  2. breakage;
  3. shrinkage;
  4. migration; and
  5. foreign object rejection.

Below our personal injury and product liability lawyers explain what these causes are and how each respective cause affects the mesh implant.

Mesh surgical

1. What is infection and how does it cause hernia mesh failure?

An infection happens when germs enter your body, multiply, and cause illness. These germs may be viruses, bacteria, fungi, among other culprits.

Infection is quite common among patients of hernia mesh repair surgery. In many cases, the infection can be cured with medicine and rest. In other cases, especially when the infection has festered or is delayed and materializes years later, it can become life-threatening.

When infection is caused by things like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the infection can take over the mesh and surrounding area, causing the mesh to fail in its purpose. There may be no sign of infection at the wound site with some MRSA-related mesh infections, so the patient may not initially realize his or her illness is associated with the mesh implant. Over time, it worsens.

To address the illness and MRSA, which is a deadly bacteria, the patient will require an operation to–among other things–remove the mesh product.1

Infection can occur after any surgery or operation or after any implant is placed in the body. With regard to hernia mesh implants specifically, MRSA infections are most common among polypropylene mesh, like:

2. What is breakage and how does it cause hernia mesh failure?

Breakage refers to the actual mesh product fracturing – some part of the product breaking off – while inside the body. The broken piece can then get infected or migrate. The mesh itself now has sharp edges from the break, too. The broken piece and the mesh itself have been known to cause injuries, like bowel perforation and obstruction.

C.R. Bard and its subsidiary Davol's Composix Kugel hernia mesh patch is an example of hernia mesh product that has gone terribly wrong. The memory recoil ring on the device was used to keep the shape of the mesh, but once inside the body it would break off and the mesh would fail.

The Kugel mesh patch was the subject of an FDA Class I recall announced in December 2005 and updated in March 2006 to include additional patches.2

3. What is shrinkage and how does it cause hernia mesh failure?

Mesh shrinkage is known as contraction, which means the mesh diminishes in size to a certain extent. Shrinkage can lead to:

When the mesh shrinks, scar tissue may grow around it, creating a fibrous mass with nerves. In other instances, the shrinkage may pull at the tissue, causing it to tear. The mesh product may then migrate, causing additional damage. Many types of hernia mesh products have been known to shrink, but a few have consistently done so:

  • C.R. Bard / Davol's Kugel patch;
  • C.R. Bard Ventralight; and
  • Ethicon Physiomesh.4

When these things happen, the mesh fails and requires removal.

4. What is migration and how does it cause hernia mesh failure?

Mesh migration occurs when the mesh moves from its intended location in the body to repair the hernia to another location of the body. There are two types of migration:

  • Mechanical or Primary Migration. This migration occurs when the mesh is not secured or anchored to the surrounding tissue well enough for it to stay, causing it to eventually move, usually from an external force.
  • Secondary Migration. This migration occurs when the implant causes inflammation and to cure the inflamed tissue, the body creates granulation to protect the wound. The granulation process, however, can cause the mesh to erode and then migrate. This process can take months or years.

When mesh migrates, it fails to keep the hernia in place and causes complications alongside of its failure. Complications can include:

  • serious bleeding;
  • infection;
  • hernia recurrence; and
  • chronic pain.

5. What is rejection and how does it cause hernia mesh failure?

In hernia mesh repair surgery, sometimes the body will reject the mesh because the body perceives the implant as an invasion and, thus, attacks it.

The immune system's attack on the foreign device may materialize as inflammation that can lead into infection and other complications, causing the mesh to fail.

There are two specific mesh materials that have been known to cause a reaction from a person's immune system:

  1. synthetic substances, like polypropylene; and
  2. animal tissue.

All mesh products have synthetic or manmade substances, but polypropylene is a known problematic source and yet it is still used because it is cheap and when it doesn't cause complications, it works well. Lawsuits have been filed against the following manufacturers of mesh products incorporating polypropylene into the design:

Atrium began coating its mesh products with omega 3 fatty acids to counter the problem of polypropylene. But two things occurred:

  1. patients began having serious reactions to the fish coating; and
  2. patients continue to have serious reactions to the polypropylene because after time, the fish coating wears off and exposes the patient to the polypropylene.

When the body rejects the hernia mesh implant, serious complications can occur causing the mesh to fail and the need for it to be removed.

Female operator ss

6. What can a hernia mesh personal injury lawyer do for me?

A hernia mesh personal injury lawyer can review your case for you during an initial free consultation. After the review, the attorney can advise you of your options.

If you are to proceed with a claim or lawsuit, the attorney will help you through the entire process. This process may include an investigation, research, expert testimony, analysis of all medical records, negotiations, hearings, among other things, until a settlement is reached and/or trial proceeds.

It is important to retain an experienced product liability attorney because in most hernia mesh cases, it is the product that has caused the injury and not any negligence or wrongdoing by medical staff or doctors. That said, it is good to have an attorney equipped with a deep understanding and knowledge of the field and who is supported by a legal team whose experience also involves all aspect of personal injury in the medical and scientific industries because this lends a greater awareness and insight into the development of your case.

At Shouse Law Group, our product liability and personal injury are provided with the resources they need to put forth the best argument for each of our clients.

We have offices throughout California, Nevada, and Colorado, but -- with regard to hernia mesh lawsuits -- we represent clients throughout the United States. To learn more about hernia mesh lawsuits and to find out if you may qualify, contact Shouse Law Group today.


  1. Neal Cooper, Aaron Pinnola, Mark Borowicz, and John Mihran Davis. 1 Sep 2016. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aura Infection in an Umbilical Hernia Mesh Eleven Years after Implantation. https://doi.org/10.1089/crsi.2016.0030
  2. FDAnews Device Daily Bulletin. 4 Apr 2006. FDA Issues Class 1 Recall on Bard Kugel Mesh Patch.
  3. Klein, Fritz MD, Ospina, Carlos MD, et al. October 2012. Formation of a Chronic Pain Syndrom eDue to Mesh Shrinkage after Laparoscopic Intraperitoneal Onlay Mesh. doi:10.1097/SLE.0b013e31825efc3c.
  4. Harslof S., Zinther N., Harslof T., Danielsen C, Wara P., Friis-Andersen H. 21 Feb 2017. Mesh shrinkage depends on mesh properties and anchoring device: an experimental long-term study in sheep. doi:10.1007/s10029-016-1528-0.

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