Meshes and Hernia Repair: What Do I Need to Know?

You may have seen the recent controversy surrounding hernia mesh repairs, warning of the dangers they present. However, while it is undesirable that any patient should suffer these challenging complications from the procedure, a lot of the coverage has been taken out of context and exaggerated.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England issued a response to the controversy in order to provide patients guidance.

Here, you’ll discover some information you need to know about mesh hernia repair.

What is mesh hernia repair?

When it comes to hernia repair, the mesh method does tend to be the most commonly used technique. It is especially effective at repairing the most common inguinal hernias and involves placing the mesh into the abdominal wall where the hernia developed, to strengthen it and prevent recurrence.

There are a number of different types of mesh which can be used, each of which has its own benefits and potential complications.

Why is it causing such controversy?

If the mesh is simply used to strengthen the abdominal wall, why is the procedure causing such controversy? It is because although the majority of hernia mesh repairs are effective, the procedure does potentially have a high risk of complications. However, it all depends upon where the hernia is, the type of mesh being used and individual patient factors.

It is important to realise that groin hernias repaired with mesh have a lower recurrence rate of 2-3% compared to much higher rates without mesh and are also less painful as the mesh allows a tension-free repair. Likewise, incisional hernias have a much higher recurrence rate of 40-60% without a mesh compared to 10-30% with mesh.

It was Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC programme which has triggered the controversy surrounding hernia mesh repair. The programme highlighted the tragic cases where the procedure has left them in chronic pain. Over 800 women are suing the NHS due to their use of mesh implants. However, what the programme didn’t highlight was that the procedure is carried out on tens of thousands of patients each year. So, when put into perspective, the complication risks are quite low.

So, are meshes and hernia repair a safe procedure?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks, some of them potentially dangerous, that you need to be aware of. It is possible that patients could be left with chronic pain, but the incidence of this is fairly low.

The majority of hernia mesh repairs are successful, which is why the procedure has been used for decades. Improvements made within the industry have helped to make the procedure safer, but patients should always make sure they talk through the risks prior to going under the knife.

If you’re looking to repair a hernia, book a consultation today. The experts at Leicester Bowel Clinic will be able to advise you on the best method to suit your individual circumstances and the potential risks and complications involved. If you are considered to be of a high risk, they will be able to advise alternative treatments which could pose a better outcome.