Signs and Symptoms of a Defective Hernia Mesh Device

Defective mesh can lead to injuries that entitle a patient to compensation for damages related to the injuries. Patients of hernia repair surgery using a mesh implant should be aware of certain signs and symptoms that typically indicate the mesh implant is defective.

There are, however, a wide range of signs and symptoms and these usually accompany specific injuries.

Below, our personal injury and product liability attorneys answer common questions and outline what the signs and symptoms of defective mesh are and the implications for bringing a hernia mesh lawsuit.

Hernia mesh

1. What are the most common signs and symptoms of a defective mesh product?

Signs and symptoms of defective mesh products are the same types of signs and symptoms for many other illnesses and medical conditions. The latter is why hernia mesh defects go unnoticed for a period of time because the patient does not realize the symptoms are related to the defective product – they think the symptoms are due to some other illness.

For example, if you have a fever, you may assume it's just a virus. Medicine may mask the fever for a while and you may think nothing of it. But the fever comes back. Maybe you ignore it for a while until the fever skyrockets, and then you get scared. At this point, maybe the hernia mesh implant is considered as a source of the fever after all other possibilities are addressed. But by then, the infection may have reached a point where other complications arise.

The most common signs and symptoms of a defective hernia mesh implant are:

  • fever
  • chills
  • pain
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • chronic infection
  • difficulty urinating
  • erectile dysfunction.

1.1 What is fever?

Your body's normal temperature range is 99-100°F. A fever occurs when your body temperature is above normal.

A mild fever is anything over the normal range to about 103°F. A high fever is 104°F or more – at which point you should see a doctor. Anyone with a fever lasting longer than 3 days should also see a doctor, even if it is a low-grade fever with the exception of:

  • 2-year olds (see a doctor if fever persists longer than 1 day); and
  • infants (see a doctor immediately if fever is 100.4°F or higher).1

As noted in the above example, fever is a symptom of many things – that's why it is hard to discern when a fever may indicate a complication due to a defective mesh insert.

When the fever occurs directly after hernia repair surgery, then you may assume easily that it is connected to the surgery and a mere side effect. But when the fever occurs later, like months or even years, that's when it becomes less and less obvious – it is also when it becomes more dangerous because it may take longer to identify the source of the fever and in the meantime, the infection worsens and spreads.

1.2 What are chills?

Chills are sensations of coldness alongside shivering. Chills are accompanied by fever, and if not, then chills are merely the result of exposure to cold air.

When chills accompany a fever, people may first assume it is virus-related, like viruses that cause the flu or a cold. It may, however, be related to a serious infection linked to a defective mesh device.

1.3 What is pain?

Pain is the sensation resulting from nerves interacting with the brain to identify tissue damage and warn you of the same via discomfort or physically suffering while your brain and nerves interact.

Pain is different for everyone. It can be mental or physical. It can be short-term or long-term. It can be centrally located or spread out.

Because patients explain and experience pain differently, this, too, is another reason why some pain directly related to the defective mesh product may go undiagnosed as such until later. But when the pain is at the site of incision or hernia, it may make it easier to connect the pain to the mesh.

One thing to notice with regard to pain is pain that does not go away – chronic pain. Chronic pain refers to pain that persists more than a few months. The pain, if a result of defective mesh, will likely be in and around the hernia repair area, but not always at the exact incision site.

1.4 What is bruising?

Bruising is a skin injury identifiable by the discoloring of the skin. It is caused by damaged blood cells beneath the skin that pools together near the skin's surface – basically, bruising is internal bleeding.

Usually, when a bruise appears, it is after you have bumped yourself. Unexplained bruises, too, may have been the result of a bump you do not remember, or it could be a result of a bleeding disorder. When it is related to a defective mesh, the bruising usually occurs on or near the site and will generally materialize immediately or soon after the hernia mesh repair surgery. Bleeding inside the incision may require additional surgery to open the incision and stop the bleeding.2

1.5 What is swelling?

Swelling (or enlarging) is a reaction to inflammation or buildup of fluid within the body – whether or not skin, organs, or another body part. Swelling can occur:

  • on the outer skin where it is visible;
  • near the skin – like muscle tissue – where it may also be visible; or
  • internally where you may not actually see the enlarging of tissue.

As other signs and symptoms, swelling can be a symptom of many illnesses and medical conditions. When the swelling is accompanied by warm and red skin and sometimes pus, then you may have an infection.

With hernia repair surgeries, infections with visible swelling are often at the wound site. If that's the case, then the swelling and its associated infection may be the result of a defective mesh implant.

1.6 What is vomiting and nausea?

Vomiting is the forcible emptying of the stomach's content via throwing up. It can be either voluntary or involuntary. Nausea is the uneasy feeling that you need to or will vomit. Both are symptoms of many different illnesses and side effects of different medicines or surgical procedures.

1.7 What is chronic infection?

Chronic infections are infections that persist. Dangerous micro-organisms like:

  • viruses;
  • bacteria;
  • fungi; and
  • parasites the body.

The immune system is incapable of quelling the attack.

Chronic infections can become deadly. The worse part: there may be no noticeable symptoms at first, so the invasion has time to significantly impact your health by the time the symptoms do start to show.

With defective hernia mesh, the primary cause of chronic infection is bacteria. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is the leading bacteria, and as the name suggests: it is resistant to most anti-bacterial medicines, complicating the situation. It almost always requires removal of the mesh implant.3

1.7 What does difficulty urinating mean?

Difficulty urinating or defecating means you are unable to use the bathroom properly – which could translate into:

  • difficulty starting a stream;
  • unable to empty your bladder completely;
  • unable to pass gas; or
  • constipation.

When you are unable to use the bathroom as you once could prior to the surgery, then it could mean the large or small intestine has been blocked or obstructed in some way.

This symptom often occurs months or years after the hernia repair surgery. Because of the duration between the hernia repair surgery and the inability to pee properly, other conditions or illnesses may be ruled out first before you think to consider or advise your doctor of the hernia mesh implant.

1.8 What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a male is unable to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can be the result of many things, like:

  • adverse reaction to medicine;
  • too much alcohol consumption; or
  • fatigue.

Erectile dysfunction, however, can also be a sign or symptom of a medical condition, like hernia mesh failure caused by a defective mesh product. The mesh may have broken, eroded, shrunk, and/or migrated to a location causing reduced blood flow to the testicles.

2. Is one sign or symptom indicative of a defective hernia mesh product?

Typically, no. One sign or symptom is usually not indicative of a defective hernia mesh product, but you should still consult with your doctor for any of the above symptoms.

Generally, signs or symptoms of complications related to defective hernia mesh products are usually accompanied by two or more symptoms.

Examples of signs and symptoms of the most common injuries or adverse events related to defective mesh (as reported by The FDA) are as follows4:

  • Infection. An infection could include fever, chills, vomiting, swelling, and/or pain.
  • Recurrence. Hernia recurrence includes infection, difficulty going to the bathroom, and nausea or vomiting.
  • Adhesion. Adhesions can include chronic pain and, when it goes on for too long before it is diagnosed and addressed, fever, swelling, and vomiting.
  • Obstruction. Obstruction, especially of the intestines, include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, inability to properly go to the bathroom, and/or swelling or bloated sensations.
  • Perforation. Defective mesh products can perforate various organs, depending on the location of the implant and where it migrated, if applicable. Common signs and symptoms include fever, chills, infection, pain, constipation, inability to pass gas, inability to urinate, bloating, vomiting, nausea, bruising or bleeding.
  • Seroma. Some signs of seromas include fever, chills, swelling, and infection.

3. When should I see a doctor for signs or symptoms of a defective hernia mesh device?

Whenever you have had hernia mesh repair surgery, you should see a doctor if any of the above signs and symptoms occur for no other apparent reason. This is true whether or not you had the surgery one month ago or ten years ago.

Injuries caused by defective mesh products have been known:

  • to develop immediately after surgery;
  • to materialize over years, even more than a decade later; or
  • to delay and develop within a year or more.

Because signs and symptoms can pop up at any time, you want to make sure when you visit your doctor for any illness, that you tell your doctor you have had surgery involving a hernia mesh product.

If you know which mesh brand was implanted, provide your doctor with the same information. Chances are, the mesh product may have FDA recalls or other complaints made about it. And if not, then your doctor – if indeed your illness is a result of a defective mesh product – can report the same to the proper authorities, including the Food and Drug Administration.

Also, mesh failure will almost like require mesh removal surgery. So, it is important to address any possible issue as soon as possible.

Female operator ss

4. When should I contact an attorney about my defective mesh product?

After your doctor has confirmed that your injury was caused by a defective mesh product, you should contact an experienced hernia mesh lawsuit attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence because of statutes of limitations. The latter varies according to your state of residence.

At Shouse Law Group, our product liability and personal injury attorneys are provided with the resources they need to put forth the best argument for each of our clients. We will review your case and advise you of your options.

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. Webmd. Fever Facts.
  2. Department of Surgery. University of California. Inguinal Hernia.
  3. Cihangir Akyol et al. 24 Apr 2013. Outcome of the patients with chronic mesh infection following open inguinal hernia repair. Journal of the Korean Surgical Society. doi: 10.4174/jkss.2013.84.5.287.
  4. FDA. Hernia Surgical Mesh Implants.

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