All You Need to Know About Organ Perforation
Doctors are increasingly making use of a surgical implant called a hernia mesh to repair damaged abdominal walls. The mesh helps to support, repair, and strengthen the tissue that has been damaged by a hernia.
Physicians believe that the hernia mesh works much better than sutures because these implants lessen the likelihood of hernia recurrence. These implants are strong and flexible, allowing them to move with the body better than traditional surgical thread.
Despite this advantage, the mesh can result in several complications, such as hernia mesh adhesion, migration, and rejection.
One of the most concerning complications of using hernia mesh is organ perforation.
What Is Organ Perforation?
Organ perforation happens when something punctures organs or tissues. In hernia mesh cases, it is usually caused by mesh failure or mesh migration. Instead of adhering to the surgical area, the mesh detaches and causes complications.
When this happens, the mesh erodes and migrates, poking and perforating internal organs as it moves around in the body. Besides mesh failure, organ perforation can also be caused by improper surgical techniques or improper mesh placement.
Organ perforation can cause further complications depending on the organ the mesh perforates. Areas of the body most at risk include:
- The urinary tract
- The bowels (colon, lower intestines, and rectum)
- Blood vessels
- The bladder
If any of these areas are damaged, you need prompt medical care to avoid life-altering complications.
Symptoms of Organ Perforation
Some of the symptoms of organ perforation resemble the symptoms of mesh failure. You could experience organ perforation symptoms anywhere from a few days to several years after a hernia repair surgery.
Regardless of when your surgery occurred, you should seek immediate medical attention should you notice the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Increased heart rate
- Bloating or constipation
- Low blood pressure
- Hemorrhaging, bleeding, or bruising because of internal bleeding
- Sudden and severe abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
The symptoms for organ perforation could also vary depending on the organs the hernia mesh has perforated.
Symptoms of bowel or gastrointestinal perforation include:
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen or large abdomen
- Bloody stools
- Changes in blood pressure
- An inability to pass gas
- Vaginal discharge of fecal matter
Likewise, symptoms of bladder perforation could include:
- Inability to urinate
- Severe pelvic cramping
- Pain when urinating
Alternatively, if you experience symptoms such as excessive vaginal bleeding, generalized weakness, and blood in your urine, you could be suffering from blood vessel perforation.
Even if organ perforation did not occur, these signs could be a result of other complications, so do not ignore them.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Organ perforation is an urgent medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. An organ that has been perforated by a hernia mesh could release unwanted substances into your body.
For example, if the hernia mesh has perforated your bowel, it could cause peritonitis. This is a dangerous type of inflammation in the abdomen that can lead to organ failure and death.
Bowel perforation could also lead to the release of waste into your body. If this waste stays in your body, it could enter your bloodstream, causing sepsis. In turn, sepsis can cause your blood pressure to drop and your blood flow to weaken, eventually leading to the loss of limbs and, in extreme cases, death.
On seeking medical attention, your physician will complete some of the following tests to determine the presence of organ perforation:
- An extensive physical exam
- CT scans
- Blood work
- Stool and urine testing
If your physician does find that organ perforation has occurred, they will create a quick response treatment plan.
In most cases, treatment plans include:
- Surgery to repair or remove the hernia mesh
- Cauterization of any ruptured blood vessels
- Antibiotics to treat any present infections
- Removal of any fluid, urine, or feces that leaked into the body
In the event of excessive blood loss due to blood vessel perforation, you might need to receive blood transfusions.
The chances of full recovery significantly increase if you identify and address the situation early. The recovery period will vary depending on several factors, such as the perforation’s size, how long it took before you sought treatment, your age, lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions.
In any event, the process will likely take several weeks and require additional doctor visits.