More than 100,000 hernia mesh devices are implanted in patients annually in the United States. Despite growing evidence that these medical products come with a high risk of complications, several of the most dangerous types of hernia mesh products remain on the market today. A Boston defective medical products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a hernia mesh implant.
The FDA is aware of the serious risk associated with hernia mesh implants, but incorrectly claims that most of the dangerous mesh products have been recalled. Here is an excerpt from a 2016 statement put out by the FDA: “Many complications related to hernia repair with surgical mesh that have been reported to the FDA have been associated with recalled mesh products that are no longer on the market. Pain, infection, recurrence, adhesion, obstruction, and perforation are the most common complications associated with recalled mesh. In the FDA’s analysis of medical adverse event reports to the FDA, recalled mesh products were the main cause of bowel perforation and obstruction complications.” However, only one month after the release of this statement, Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, recalled its Physiomesh hernia mesh product after mounting reports of serious injuries.
Why are Hernia Mesh Products So Dangerous?
Each type of hernia mesh is different and can lead to different complications. But one of the most glaring issues has to do with the material used to make them. The use of polypropylene in certain types of hernia mesh, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Physiomesh, is of concern. According to the Polypropylene Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS), “applications involving permanent implantation into the body” are included under “Prohibited Uses.” Polypropylene may begin to degrade in less than 18 months after implantation, but hernia mesh often remains in the body for much longer, up to 15 years or more. There are alternatives to polypropylene. These may include different plastics, gels, and even pig skins.
Is There an Alternative?
Extremely large hernias often require some type of hernia mesh to repair. However, if your hernia is very small, a non-mesh alternative is likely a better option. Small hernias can generally be repaired with ease using sutures. Unfortunately, there is a high rate of recurrence with hernias, so physicians may choose to implant mesh rather than have patients come in for multiple sutures. Yes, the mesh may last longer, but even hernias repaired with mesh implants have a high rate of recurrence. So, while the mesh may last longer than a suture, a suture is likely safer than mesh for small hernias. Further, when mesh products fail, in addition to other medical complications, the hernia is usually significantly larger than before the failure.
Hernia Mesh Complications
Hernia mesh can cause serious, life-threatening complications, including bowel erosion and the need for multiple revision surgeries. Other complications include:
- Infection, such as sepsis
- Bowel adhesions
- Bowel obstruction
- Partial bowel removal
- Abdominal pain
- Device migration
- Leg and groin pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Seroma (a fluid capsule that may form around the mesh)
- Autoimmune disorders
- Severe headache
- Nausea, vomiting
- Renal failure
- Joint aches
- Excessive sweating
- Dental infections
Several lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, and we expect that thousands more will soon follow. Considering that the first Physiomesh lawsuits were filed in 2016, jury trials are likely to begin in early 2018. If you’ve been injured by a hernia mesh implant, a MA dangerous medical products lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful claim.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Defective Medical Device Law Firm
If you have been injured due to a defective or dangerous medical device, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. When huge medical manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies put profits before the safety of the general public, they should be held accountable for their actions. If you have been harmed, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.