Complications relating to the use of surgical mesh in hernia surgeries and other procedures has become an important medical and legal issue in Canada, attracting the attention of physicians, victims’ advocates, and medical malpractice lawyers. Surgical mesh – called hernia mesh when used in operations to repair hernias and transvaginal mesh when used to repair stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse – is used in as many as 100,000 medical procedures in Canada every year. The rate of complications depends on the variety of surgery, and ranges from 1 to upwards of 15 per cent.
As a result of this high number of complications, several surgical mesh products have been recalled by their manufacturers or banned from use by Health Canada. Numerous mesh implant lawsuits have also been filed as affected patients seek compensation for their pain and suffering. If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury from the use of surgical or hernia mesh, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how our compassionate, experienced team can help you on your road to recovery.
Hernias and Surgical Mesh
Hernia repairs are the most common use of surgical mesh. Hernias are quite common in Canada, with roughly five per cent of the population experiencing the affliction at some point in their life.
Hernias occur when part of an organ or a section of tissue bulges through wall of the cavity that contains it. They most often occur in the abdomen and come in many forms, including inner groin hernias (inguinal hernia), outer groin hernias (femoral hernia), hernias around the bellybutton (umbilical hernia), hernias of the upper stomach (hiatal hernia), and hernias caused by an incision (incisional hernia).
In every case, hernias occur when pressure applied to an organ forces it through an existing hole or weakness in the muscle or connective tissue in which it is contained. This pressure can derive from a wide variety of everyday events, such as persistent sneezing, constipation or diarrhea, or lifting a heavy or ungainly object without first bracing the abdominal muscles.
Several factors may increase an individual’s chances of suffering a hernia, including obesity, smoking, lung disease, pregnancy, and having already undergone an open appendectomy. Experts believe that hernias may also be somewhat hereditary.
What is hernia mesh?
Surgical mesh, referred to as hernia mesh when used to treat hernias, is a loosely woven mesh of biological or inorganic material such as polypropylene, polyglycolic acid, or prolene. It may be permanent or temporary, meaning it will dissolve over time. Different afflictions will require different varieties of surgical mesh.
If you are unsure of the variety of hernia mesh used in your surgery, you may need a copy of the manufacturer’s product sticker. This can generally be found your Operative Report, available by request from the hospital where your procedure was performed.
Not all hernias require treatment. When a hernia presents no visible or physical symptoms, it can be left as is. Mild hernias may also be treatable by medication or simple changes to a patient’s diet or lifestyle.
Not all hernia patients are so lucky, unfortunately; many hernias require surgical intervention. Hernia procedures can be divided into two major categories: laparoscopic surgery and open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery most commonly involves using a surgical mesh to patch the hole in your connective tissue. There are numerous benefits to this approach, including a shorter or non-existent hospital stay and quicker recovery. However, the use of surgical mesh in hernia procedures also presents numerous potential risks.
The symptoms of a hernia vary widely, and in some cases may be nonexistent. More often, hernias present as small lumps or bulges in the affected region. Pain and discomfort are also typical side effects and particularly common when bending over, lifting objects, coughing, or sneezing. Inguinal hernias are sometimes accompanied by a heavy sensation in the lower abdominal region or an aching, burning sensation around the bulge. In the case of hiatal hernias, chest pain, acid reflux, and difficulty swallowing food are common symptoms.
Non-hernia uses of surgical mesh
Though surgical mesh is most commonly used to treat hernias, it is also a popular remedy for several other illnesses, including female stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (the weakening of the muscles that hold in place the pelvic organs).
In these instances, surgical mesh is generally referred to as transvaginal mesh. In Canada, physicians perform approximately 25,000 stress urinary incontinence operations each year, and about 90 per cent of those use surgical mesh. Complications occur in around 1 to 2 per cent of these procedures.
The rate of complication is higher – 15 per cent or more – in procedures to treat pelvic organ prolapse.
Common Complications Associated with Hernia Mesh
Complications associated with the use of hernia mesh can take many forms: the mesh may become dislodged from its intended location and tear, twist, or warp; it may become too embedded in tissue, causing inflammation; it may erode badly, sometimes leaking into other organs; or it may cause infections, perforations, or abscesses.
The most common symptom of these complications is persistent and serious chronic pain. Most hernia mesh lawyers’ clients suffer from life-changing pain that has hindered their ability to pursue simple pleasure. The Canadian media has reported extensively on these scenarios.
A further consequence of complications related to the use of hernia mesh is the need for subsequent surgeries. Patients who suffer complications from permanent surgical mesh may require serious procedures to remove the mesh. In some cases, these procedures can last hours and require lengthy hospital stays and recovery periods. To make matters worse, the pain caused by the hernia mesh often remains even after it has been extracted.
Health Canada statistics show that at least three people have died and 180 have been injured due to complications from surgeries involving surgical mesh since 2000. Many of the surviving victims have sought the help of a product liability lawyer to initiate a hernia mesh lawsuit.
Hernia Mesh Recalls and Lawsuits
Per Health Canada, at least twelve brands of surgical mesh have been recalled or deemed unusable since 2000. One high-profile example of this phenomenon is Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh, a surgical mesh manufactured by Ethicon – a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary – that was recalled in 2016 due to higher-than-average rates of recurrence and reoperation following surgeries using the product. A number of products were also recalled in 2005 after breaking apart and causing injuries to nearby organs.
Thousands of Canadians are currently engaged in class action abdominal mesh lawsuits against the manufacturers of surgical meshes, and tens of thousands more are seeking compensation in the United States and in the United Kingdom. If you have suffered negative side effects resulting from a surgery using hernia mesh, you too may be entitled to compensation – contact the experienced team at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers for guidance and advice.
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Hernia Mesh is Still in Use – Why?
Despite thousands of reported complications, Canadian physicians continue to use surgical mesh in a variety of procedures – and are doing so at an increasing rate. Doctors believe that surgical mesh allows them to treat hernias, prolapses, and other afflictions through minimally invasive surgery that requires shorter hospital stays and speedier recoveries. They also point to the fact that the complication rate varies by study and is believed by many to be quite low.
However, the sheer number of operations involving surgical mesh in Canada means that even with low complication rates, thousands of Canadians suffer adverse effects each year. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly 1,000 mesh removal procedures were performed during 2016 alone.
Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
If you or a member of your family is suffering from complications from procedure involving surgical mesh, you may qualify to join an existing class action surgical mesh lawsuit against the mesh’s manufacturer. Plaintiffs in these cases allege that they were not appropriately informed of the risks associated with surgical mesh and suffered serious, persistent, and life-changing injuries as a result of its use.
Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers is currently accepting inquiries regarding hernia mesh lawsuits from across Canada, with the exception of the Province of Quebec.
Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers
Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers has been representing Ontario’s most vulnerable injury victims for more than four decades. If you are interested in pursuing a hernia mesh surgery lawsuit or joining an existing class action surgical mesh lawsuit, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced product liability lawyer. Our team can help you understand your legal options, provide guidance and medical resources during your recovery, and ensure that your rights are protected. Call today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
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