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Alternatives to Hernia Mesh Surgery

Author
Alicia Betz
April 8, 2022

So, you have a hernia. Not fun by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe your doctor told you that you need to have it repaired with hernia mesh, or maybe that’s the only hernia repair option you’re aware of. Hernia mesh can be a good option for some people. Hernia repair surgeries that use mesh have shown a less than 3% failure rate in some studies. 

As with any medical device or procedure, a hernia mesh can be dangerous, too, and these medical devices have been hotly contested lately. A faulty hernia mesh can lead to:

  • Pain
  • Adhesions
  • Blocked intestines
  • Organ perforation
  • Internal bleeding
  • Hernia recurrence
  • Infections

Because of the many issues associated with hernia mesh and the high rate of hernia mesh failure, many people are hesitant to get a hernia mesh. Nobody wants to try to fix a problem only to have the “fix” create even more problems. Those who have had hernia mesh surgery and experienced dangerous side effects have gone as far as to sue hernia mesh manufacturers. 

Hernia mesh surgery is common, which leads many people to believe it is the only option. If you’re currently dealing with a painful hernia, traditional hernia mesh surgery is not your only option. Your doctor may not go into details about his or her surgical technique, but you have a right to know what will be done to your body. Never be afraid to ask about the technique they will use, why they are choosing that technique, and what the pros and cons are. 

To help you be armed with information when you talk to your healthcare provider, here are some other hernia treatment options. 

hernia mesh lawsuit

Re-evaluate the Need for Surgery

If you’re in pain and the hernia is interfering with your daily life, you most likely do need surgical repair. However, if your hernia is not causing pain but your healthcare provider is still pushing for hernia mesh surgery, consider getting a second opinion. A second doctor might advise keeping a watchful eye on your hernia. Studies have shown that watchful waiting with a hernia that is only mildly painful or asymptomatic is acceptable. You may be able to delay or completely avoid surgery.

 

 

 

Hernia Prevention

 

 

 

 

Surgical Options Other Than Hernia Mesh

Unfortunately, surgery is the only option that can truly heal a hernia. Mesh, however, is far from your only choice. There is another type of hernia surgery called “pure tissue repair,” and it was actually the only type of hernia repair until the mesh was invented in the 1950’s. The five non-mesh surgery techniques are McVay/Cooper’s Ligament, Shouldice, Guarnieri, Desarda, and Bassini. 

Rather than putting a piece of mesh to help fortify the area weakened by the hernia, pure tissue repair strengthens the original tissue around the hernia and brings it back together. This type of surgery will likely take longer than a mesh surgery, and you might have trouble finding a surgeon who performs pure tissue repair. 

For people who are wary about the risks of hernia mesh or who don’t want a foreign material in their body, it’s worth advocating for themselves to get a surgery technique they are comfortable with. Learn a little more about the five non-mesh surgery techniques below:

McVay/Cooper’s Ligament

To repair your hernia with this technique, the surgeon will stitch muscle or tendon to Cooper’s ligament. This type of repair is used most often for hernias in the groin, particularly femoral hernias. 

Shouldice

With this technique, you’ll be put under general anesthesia. The surgeon will use steel wires to close the muscles around your hernia. The shouldice technique is not appropriate for hiatal and parastomal hernias. 

Guarnieri

This technique is sometimes performed with mesh, but the majority of the time it doesn't use mesh. If your surgeon tells you he or she is going to use this technique for your hernia repair, be sure to inquire if they will use mesh or not. With this method, the surgeon will overlap your muscles over the hernia location to provide reinforcement. 

Desarda

Unlike other mesh-free hernia repair options, this technique does not use tension. The surgeon will use your own muscle to reinforce the area of the hernia. It is very similar to repair with mesh, but is preferred by some people because it uses your own muscle for the reinforcement instead of a foreign material. 

Bassini

This hernia repair technique is used for inguinal hernias. In this surgery, the surgeon will stitch your fascia (connective tissue) to your inguinal ligament. This technique was first developed in the 1800’s and has been perfected over time. 

Whether you get mesh or non-mesh repair for your hernia, the surgery can be done either open or laparoscopic. This is another conversation to have with your healthcare provider if you feel strongly about either surgical technique. 

Hernia Mesh Lawsuit

How to Advocate for Alternative Hernia Repair Options

As a patient, you have every right to decide what will and will not happen to your body. If a healthcare provider refuses to take your hernia mesh concerns seriously, you can seek a second opinion. Armed with information and knowledge that there are many hernia repair techniques, you can have an educated conversation with your surgeon.

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