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Hernia mesh is commonly implanted into the human body for many different reasons. If you are a person facing hernia mesh implantation, here some facts that may interest you. Is there a problem with hernia mesh implanted into a patient’s body?

A study in Britain, reported in The BMJ, “Hernia mesh complications may have affected up to 170 000 patients, investigation finds”

Up to 170 000 patients who have had hernia mesh operations in the past six years could be experiencing complications, yet NHS trusts in England have no consistent policy for treatment or follow-up with patients, an investigation by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has found.

Around 570 0000 hernia mesh operations have taken place in England over the past six years, figures from NHS Digital show. Leading surgeons think that the complication rate is between 12% and 30%, meaning that between 68 000 and 170 000 patients could have been adversely affected in this period.

Patients who had had hernia mesh operations told the programme about being in constant pain, unable to sleep, and finding it difficult to walk or even pick up a sock. Some patients said that they felt suicidal.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) provides useful information in “Hernia Surgical Mesh Implants”:

A hernia occurs when an organ, intestine or fatty tissue squeezes through a hole or a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. Hernias often occur at the abdominal wall.  Sometimes a hernia can be visible as an external bulge particularly when straining or bearing down.

Types of Hernias

The most common types of hernias are:

  • Inguinal: occurs in the inner groin

  • Femoral: occurs in the upper thigh/outer groin

  • Incisional: occurs through an incision or scar in the abdomen

  • Ventral: occurs in the general abdominal/ventral wall

  • Umbilical: occurs at the belly button

  • Hiatal: occurs inside the abdomen, along the upper stomach/diaphragm

The FDA website goes on to explain the risks of different repair techniques:

Hernias have a high rate of recurrence, and surgeons often use surgical mesh to strengthen the hernia repair and reduce the rate of recurrence. Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in mesh-based hernia repairs—by 2000, non-mesh repairs represented less than 10% of groin hernia repair techniques.

The use of surgical mesh may also improve patient outcomes through decreased operative time and minimized recovery time. However, recovery time depends on the type of hernia, the surgical approach, and the patient’s condition both before and after surgery.

Information found in medical literature has consistently demonstrated a reduced hernia recurrence rate when surgical mesh is used to repair the hernia compared to hernia repair without surgical mesh. For example, inguinal hernia recurrence is higher with open repair using sutures (primary closure) than with mesh repair.

Despite reduced rates of recurrence, there are situations where the use of surgical mesh for hernia repair may not be recommended. Patients should talk to their surgeons about their specific circumstances and their best options and alternatives for hernia repair.

Risks are detailed by the FDA as follows:

Based on FDA’s analysis of medical device adverse event reports and of peer-reviewed, scientific literature, the most common adverse events for all surgical repair of hernias—with or without mesh—are pain, infection, hernia recurrence, scar-like tissue that sticks tissues together (adhesion), blockage of the large or small intestine (obstruction), bleeding, abnormal connection between organs, vessels, or intestines (fistula), fluid build-up at the surgical site (seroma), and a hole in neighboring tissues or organs (perforation).

Hopefully these facts will help a patient considering a hernia mesh implantation, ask their doctor to explain the product being used and the risks involved, and result in a better outcome.


  1. Gravatar for Sonya baugh
    Sonya baugh

    Interested in knowing by incarcerated Epigastric hernia’s The recovery and about the mesh

    1. Wayne Parsons

      Aloha Sonya. The treatment for incarcerated epigastric hernia’s is complex and varied. Serious also. If you can send me some records that describe the exact condition, I can respond.

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