Surgical mesh is commonly used in many medical procedures. It is intended to strengthen weakened tissues and is used primarily in surgeries that are correcting problems caused by muscle or tissue failures, including hernias and certain pelvic surgeries in women. For instance, roughly 90 percent of all surgeries for hernia repair nationwide use surgical mesh in the procedure.
While surgical mesh can prevent the corrected injury from recurring, it also can cause serious complications. Many types of mesh have been recalled, and the FDA has received thousands of reports involving complications related to the use of surgical mesh. If you have suffered complications or other problems from a surgery involving surgical mesh, you should consider contacting an attorney to determine whether you are eligible for compensation for your injuries. The defective medical device lawyers of Slappey & Sadd will review your case for free and let you know whether we believe you have a claim. If you choose us to represent you, we will never collect legal fees unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.What is Surgical Mesh?
Surgical mesh is a surgical device used in certain surgeries to help support weak or damaged tissue. It is most commonly used in hernia operations and certain vaginal surgeries. Surgical mesh can be synthetic or made from animal tissue. It can be knitted, non-knitted, absorbable or non-absorbable. Non-absorbable mesh remains in the body indefinitely, usually used to give permanent support to a repaired hernia. Absorbable mesh degrades over time and loses strength. It does not provide long-term support to damaged tissue. It is intended to provide temporary support until new tissue growth provides strength to the area being repaired.
The use of surgical meshes – and non-absorbable meshes in particular – led to a revolution in surgical techniques for hernias and certain vaginal operations. The meshes provided a less invasive method for performing such surgeries, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of these surgeries. This increase, particularly in the use of synthetic materials, often used without proper training, led to a wide array of complications from these surgeries. The synthetic materials used – nonabsorbable and intended to longer-lasting, or very nearly permanent – often had a tendency to break down over time and lead to complications. While some of these complications were surgeon-based, involving poor techniques or procedures, many were product-based, involving the use of improper or recalled materials.Surgical Mesh can Cause Complications Leading to Injuries
The federal Food and Drug Administration has identified a number of complications that can arise from hernia surgeries involving surgical mesh. These complications include:
- A recurrence of the hernia
- Bowel obstruction
These complications occurred most frequently where recalled surgical meshes that are no longer on the market were used.
Besides hernia surgeries, surgical meshes are most commonly used in certain vaginal surgeries. One again, complications are common. The two most common vaginal surgeries using surgical mesh are frequently related to pelvic muscles weakened by childbirth. The first is known as pelvic organ prolapse, referred to as POP, while the second is called stress urinary incontinence, or SUI. POP involves pelvic organs, including the uterus, to drop below their normal position because of muscles weakened by childbirth, while SUI also stems from weakened pelvic muscles and results in involuntary urine release when a woman coughs, laughs, sneezes or engages in strenuous activity or exercise.
Since the introduction of surgical mesh for POP or SUI surgeries, known as transvaginal mesh, in the 1980s, millions of women have had surgeries for POP or SUI, with roughly one in three POP surgeries involving transvaginal mesh, and upwards of 80 percent of SUI surgeries also involving transvaginal mesh (TVM). The FDA first approved a surgical mesh for SUI in 1996. In 2002 the agency approved a surgical mesh for treatment of POP. By 2008, though, the FDA realized that transvaginal mesh was causing potentially serious complications in many cases and that use of TVM should be carefully monitored. In 2011 the FDA put out a warning regarding the use of transvaginal mesh, stating that TVM could result in potentially serious complications.
Among the most serious of these complications, which also occurs in hernia repair surgeries using surgical mesh, was mesh erosion, in which the surgical mesh deteriorates and breaks into pieces. The broken fragments of mesh often have sharp edges and can damage adjacent tissue and organs. The pieces also can dig into tissue in the area, which often can result in the need for multiple surgeries to remove all of the fragments. The FDA found that roughly 10 percent of women who underwent surgery to correct POP using transvaginal mesh suffered from mesh erosion within a year of their initial surgery. Many required surgical removal of the deteriorating mesh fragments, and many of those needed more than one operation to remove the fragments.
Some women who suffered complications from mesh erosion died as a result of the injuries, which were found to cause infections, internal bleeding, nerve damage, damage to adjacent organs and blood vessels, difficulty urinating, pain while urinating, involuntary release of urine – which the use of the mesh was supposed to correct -- and even pain during sex.
In 2011, the FDA recommended that physicians consider treating POP without using surgical mesh, thus avoiding any mesh-related complications. The FDA further recommended that doctors should use surgical mesh only after weighing the risks and benefits of using surgical mesh in POP or SUI corrective surgeries as opposed to other surgical and non-surgical options.Contact Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with an Atlanta Defective Medical Device Lawyer
If you have had a surgery in which surgical mesh was used that resulted in injuries or complications, you should consult with an attorney to examine your options for recovering damages. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling (404) 255-6677. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta. You also can reach us through our online contact form.