When a patient with a ventral hernia (the swelling of tissues, intestines, or organs that works its way through an opening, injury, or surgical incision in a patient’s abdominal wall) undergoes hernia repair surgery, one common method of repair is to place a bioabsorbable mesh hernia patch over that opening. This causes the patient’s natural tissues to absorb the hernia mesh and become stronger .
These bioabsorbable patches succeed. Bioabsorbable mesh procedures are safe and have a low chance of hernia recurrence. Specifically, the flexible materials in most hernia patches almost guarantees a natural healing process and a minimal amount of discomfort for the patient.
However, Ethicon (part of Johnson & Johnson) has recalled the Physiomesh Composite Mesh hernia patch. Hundreds of patients have reported painful adhesions and other symptoms of hernia mesh migration, shrinkage, and tearing. Mainly, the body’s tissues view the patch as a foreign object. This causes dense, painful adhesions to develop that can force the patch to migrate or tear .
In May 2016, Ethicon voluntary withdrew its Physiomesh products (they refuse to label this a recall). This decision resulted from research showing that Ethicon’s Physiomesh had a much higher-than-average rate of required revision surgery than other mesh products.
Patients with complications from Ethicon Physiomesh hernia patches often experience:
- Other signs of infection such as redness or a noticeable discharge from the surgical site
- Hernia recurrence
- Dense adhesions (scar-like tissue)
- Seroma (fluid buildup)
- Bowel obstruction
By 2016, at least 50% of Ethicon Physiomesh patients who have had the Ethicon hernia mesh inserted since 2010 have experienced one or more of the above side effects. Usually serious side effects lead to additional surgeries, medication, and hospitalization. Some symptoms may lead to lifelong complications.