Organ & Tissue Perforation Related to Hernia Mesh Products

Hernia repair surgery used with defective mesh products can lead to organ perforation. When injuries like organ perforation happen, you be in a position to file a lawsuit over the failed hernia mesh. Here, we answer some questions you may have about your hernia repair surgery with mesh products and how to identify if the pain you feel after surgery is related to organ perforation.

Mesh surgical
Hernia repair surgery used with defective mesh products can lead to organ perforation.

1. What is hernia mesh?

Hernia mesh is a surgical implant used to repair hernias. The mesh provides support to tissue that has been damaged by the hernia. The implant is spread across the gap made by the hernia and connects the tissue. This process is meant to help the tissue repair and strengthen. There are a number of different types of mesh products that are made from different materials and serve different functions within the body. Your doctor will choose the one he or she thinks is best for the type of hernia you have.

2. Why do doctors like to use hernia mesh products?

The alternative to mesh products is suturing. But doctors do not like to use sutures because the rate of hernia recurrence is much higher and the stress placed on the tissue is much greater. With more than a million people in the U.S. needing hernia repair surgery each year, something more sustainable is desired.

Mesh products are perceived as a better alternative to sutures because statistically, the risk of hernia recurrence is lower. But, studies also show that mesh can cause other -- more serious -- complications. 1 In fact, a study released in 2017 reveals that the benefits of mesh are offset by the complications of the same. 2 One of the more serious complications is organ perforation.

3. What is mesh-related organ perforation?

According to the FDA, one of the most common complications after surgery to repair hernias is “a hole in neighboring tissues or organs,” also known as organ perforation. 3 It can occur in one of three ways:

  • Improper placement of the mesh
  • Improper surgical technique, or
  • Hernia mesh failure.

The typical cause of mesh-related organ perforation is mesh failure. When mesh is used to repair hernias, sometimes the mesh is defective and fails. It can then erode and migrate. As the implant moves in the body, it can poke another internal organ, perforating it.

Mesh-related perforation is simply an organ that is torn by the mesh implant. It is an injury itself and a source of additional complications.

The organs most at risk for mesh perforation are:

  • The bladder
  • The urinary tract
  • The bowels (rectum, colon, lower intestines)
  • Blood vessels.

4. What are the symptoms of organ perforation?

Symptoms of organ perforation are similar to mesh failure signs and symptoms. If at any time after hernia repair surgery, whether it is the next day or three years later, you undergo serious illness, you may want to seek immediate medical attention and tell the doctor about the hernia mesh.

Common symptoms include

  • Infection
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation or bloating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding or hemorrhaging or bruising (due to internal bleeding)
  • Severe and sudden pain.

Because these symptoms could be caused by many other conditions, it is important that if you experience any of them, you seek medical attention. When you see your doctor, advise him or her that you have had hernia repair surgery in the past.

In addition, warning signs can vary, depending on the specific organs that have been perforated.

4.1 What are the symptoms of bowel (gastrointestinal) perforation?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Large or swollen abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Bloody stools
  • Vaginal discharge of fecal matter
  • Blood pressure changes 4

4. 2 What are the symptoms of bladder perforation?

  • Pain when urinating
  • Inability to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Severe pelvic cramping

4.3 What are the symptoms of blood vessel perforation?

  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Generalized weakness
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Pressure

5. What are the complications of organ perforation?

Organ perforation is a medical emergency, meaning you should seek immediate treatment. The seriousness of it cannot be stressed. Untreated, it can lead to serious complications.

A perforated organ can release substances into the body. For instance, gastrointestinal perforation that can release waste into the body. If these substances are not removed quickly, they can enter the bloodstream. Substances in the bloodstream can lead to sepsis. Sepsis causes your body to enter a state of shock: your blood pressure drops and blood flow weakens. Sepsis can lead to:

  • Loss of limbs (arms and/or legs) to stop the spread of sepsis, or
  • Death.

6. How is organ perforation diagnosed and treated?

Once you seek medical attention and advise the doctor that you have had hernia repair surgery in the past, the doctor should complete any of the following as applicable:

  • A thorough physical exam
  • Blood work
  • Urine testing
  • Stool testing
  • CT scans
  • Ultrasound
  • Cystography.

Once organ perforation is confirmed, you will be treated. Treatment can include:

  • Surgery to remove the mesh
  • Surgery to repair the hernia
  • Cauterization of ruptured blood vessels
  • Removal of any leaked fluid, urine, or feces into the body
  • Antibiotics to address infection
  • Blood transfusion if you have had a lot of blood loss.

7. Are there any mesh products that have particularly been known to cause organ perforation?

Any defective mesh product has the potential to lead to organ perforation if the mesh fails and/or migrates.

In particular, the Bard Composix Kugel Mesh patch -- approved by the FDA in 1996 with problems appearing in 2002 -- has been known to cause organ perforation. This patch was used primarily for ventral and inguinal hernia repair surgeries. The specific problem with the patch was its recoil ring and its ease with breaking after implanted in the body. Lawsuits have ensued and Bard has had to pay out millions of dollars to injured patients.

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8. When should a patient find an attorney?

If you have had hernia repair surgery and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above that can indicate organ perforation, contact your doctor immediately. In many cases, the manufacturers of defective mesh products have been found liable and have had to payout compensatory damages to the victims. Ongoing legislation continues. If you feel you have been the victim of defective mesh product or medical malpractice, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

At Shouse Law Group, we have a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who collaborate and represent clients who have been injured due to the fault of another person or entity. If you have been injured due to defective mesh products, you may be eligible to claim medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for the injuries you sustained. Our personal injury attorneys will aggressively, yet compassionately represent you and your claim. We have local offices throughout California, but pursue hernia mesh claims throughout the U.S. Call us at 855-396-0370 or fill out our online contact form on this page so that we can begin reviewing your case.

References

  1. Kokotovic, D., Bisgaard, T., Helgstrand, F. Long-term Recurrence and Complications Associated With Elective Incisional Hernia Repair. JAMA. 2016 Oct 18;316(15):1575-1582. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.15217.
  2. Id.
  3. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hernia Surgical Mesh Products. Last updated 02/04/2018.
  4. Healthline. Gastrointestinal Perforation.

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