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Doctors May Require Special Training To Remove Failed Hernia Repair Mesh

Revision surgery to recover hernia mesh that has migrated within the body could spawn a new medical specialty

Thursday, February 28, 2019 - The voluntary removal of the Ethicon Phyiomesh Composite Hernia Repair Device in 2016, sent shock waves through the medical community specializing in hernia repair. Ethicon, one of several companies that make up the Johnson & Johnson medical devices group took immediate action when they were made aware of the high number of Physiomesh failures that required revision surgery and issued an Emergency and Voluntary Market Withdrawal of the medical device. Experts have been eager to pontificate on the potential reasons for the device's failure as Ethicon merely cited multi-factorial (many potential) reasons why their best-selling hernia repair device would no longer be made available. While most doctors were eager to embrace the higher income potential hernia mesh devices offered them, others continued to question whether or not hernia repair mesh was even necessary or just a fad. It is generally presumed that the plastic material from which hernia repair mesh is molded could be responsible for the high failure rate.

Each year over 100,000 hernia repair patients (10-12%) develop an infection that requires hernia mesh revision surgery. Hernia repair mesh is made from polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic with the unique qualities of being strong, lightweight and flexible enough to meet the demands placed on it by the twists and turns of the abdominal wall. Studies have shown, however, that polypropylene is not compatible with human tissue and easily degrades in strength and flexibility when attacked by the body's natural immune system. When this happens hernia mesh can shrink, buckle, harden, and detach from the hernia it was intended to support. Hernia mesh or pieces thereof can then migrate to the lower intestines causing painful lacerations, internal bleeding, infections, and potentially life-threatening blockages. Nerve damage to the groin has also been reported being caused by migrating hernia mesh.

As a result of so many failed hernia mesh devices, doctors are telling journalists that over 10 percent of their practices have been devoted to removing defective hernia mesh devices. Hernia mesh removal doctors report patients with mesh infections, mesh buckling and mesh-related pain that is alleviated once the device is taken out. Occasionally hernia repair mesh will become embedded in the intestines to such a degree that the mesh's removal requires removal of a section of the intestines as well. Hernia revision surgery is major surgery and carries all of the risks for infection, blood clots and complications with general anesthesia. Experts agree that should the current trend in hernia repair mesh failure continue doctors could spend as much time repairing the defective medical device as they did in inserting them the first place.

Hernia mesh patients that are experiencing pain from hernia mesh migration or infections are reporting their conditions to the US FDA's MAUDE database and also sharing their horror stories on social media. In Europe hernia mesh failures are reported to the specialty Herniamed database that government regulatory agencies presumably monitor to give them an indication that problems with a particular brand of hernia repair mesh may be occurring. Patients are hiring hernia mesh attorneys to help them file claims to be reimbursed for their expenses related to having the hernia mesh device removed.

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OnderLaw, LLC is a St. Louis personal injury law firm handling serious injury and death claims across the country. Its mission is the pursuit of justice, no matter how complex the case or strenuous the effort. OnderLaw has represented clients throughout the United States in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation such as Pradaxa, Lexapro and Yasmin/Yaz, where the firm's attorneys held significant leadership roles in the litigation, as well as Actos, DePuy, Risperdal and others. OnderLaw has won more than $300 million in four talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in St. Louis. Law firms throughout the nation often seek its experience and expertise on complex litigation.