Types of Hernias
A hernia is a condition that occurs whenever a portion of the intestine or an organ protrudes through surrounding muscle or connective tissue. Hernias are often visible, especially when someone strains or bears down on the affected area. In order to prevent a hernia from recurring, doctors will typically use a hernia repair mesh plug or patch to reinforce the muscles that surround the problem area.
Hernias Repaired with Mesh
Common types of hernias repaired with mesh include:
- Inguinal Hernia on the Inner Groin Area
- Femoral Hernias on the Outer Groin Region
- Abdominal Hernias Occur All Over the Pelvic Region
- Incisional Hernias Located at Surgery Site
- Umbilical Hernias on the Navel or Belly Button
- Hiatal Hernias Occur Above the Stomach Area
While there are many kinds of hernias, the most common ones affect the abdomen. In fact, abdominal hernias comprise approximately 60% of all hernias. They often occur in the inguinal canal, a portion of the abdominal wall. While inguinal hernias occur in both women and men, in men this occurs in the area from which the testicles descend. This leads to a natural defect known as an internal inguinal ring. If this area does not seal properly, a portion of the intestine or another part of the abdomen can protrude through, leading to bulging as well as severe pain.
Risk factors for inguinal hernias include heredity, obesity, cystic fibrosis, standing for long periods of time on a regular basis and, in women, pregnancy.
Inguinal hernias can be characterized as direct or indirect hernias. An indirect inguinal hernia is caused by inguinal ring weakness, while a direct inguinal hernia occurs when the floor of the inguinal canal (located slightly below the ring) is weakened. Direct inguinal hernias are usually found in men 40 years and older, but can affect both men and women.
Some of the other types of hernias include:
- Supravescial hernias – These typically involve obstructions of the gastrointestinal tract and show symptoms similar to that of a urinary tract infection.
- Lumbar hernias – Lumbar hernias cause discomfort in the flanks and result in protrusion of the lumbar triangles, which are located in the lower portion of the back.
- Sciatic hernias – Symptoms of a sciatic hernia include increasing tenderness in the glutes as well as obstructions of the uterus or intestines.
- Obturator hernias – These cause severe pain in the thigh that becomes worse when rotating the area.
Options for Hernia Repair Surgery
There are two main options for hernia repair, laparoscopic and open repair surgery. In a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon cuts several small incisions into the abdominal area. These incisions create openings for different surgical devices to repair the problem. In an open repair, the surgeon makes a cut near the location of the hernia in order to repair it as well as the weakened muscles that surround it.
Hernia Mesh Recall Timeline
There have been several hernia mesh recalls in the last few years. C.R. Bard, the maker of the Kugel mesh patch, issued three recalls alone from 2005-2007 due to a defect that could result in bowel perforations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled eight different Kugel models from 2006-2007. Since then, more than 3,000 hernia mesh recall lawsuits were filed across the country.
Although Ethicon didn’t issue a recall of its Physiomesh device in the U.S., it pulled the mesh off the market in May 2016.
Surgical Hernia Mesh Devices and the FDA
In October 2014, the FDA issued a Safety Communication announcing patient reports of surgical mesh complications. These included instances of the mesh adhering to intestines, injuries to blood vessels, organs and nerves, infections and others. If you have been injured due to a hernia repair mesh, you can report your problem to the FDA by filing a MedWatch Report. Another way you can let the FDA know is by filing a hernia repair lawsuit. Whenever the manufacturer of a medical device is sued, it is required to report that lawsuit to the FDA.
2016 and 2017 Hernia Mesh Lawsuits & Litigation
Thousands of people across the country have filed lawsuits over surgical hernia mesh complications. For example, a woman in Florida sued Ethicon in September 2016, claiming that the company’s Physiomesh device not only caused her chronic pain but also blocked her intestines. She alleged that the mesh could not be surgically removed because it had become embedded in the wall of her abdomen.
Separately, C.R. Bard agreed to a $184 million settlement in 2011 in a case involving complications associated with its Kugel patch, while a plaintiff in an individual case was awarded $1.3 million in damages in 2010. Many Kugel patch lawsuits are still in progress, including a lawsuit filed by the children of a woman whom they allege died of sepsis due to a defective hernia mesh.
Dozens of plaintiffs have filed lawsuit claims in 2017 for hernia mesh injuries, and many more are expected to step forward.
Answers to Surgical Hernia Mesh Questions