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Common Hernia Mesh Infection Symptoms to Lookout For

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Unfortunately, infection is a common side effect of hernia mesh surgery, and it can occur days, months, or years after surgery. Hernia mesh infections happen when your body has an adverse reaction to the synthetic material contained in the implanted mesh.

Different factors influence the chances of infections happening. These factors include patient co-morbidities, surgery technique, and type of hernia mesh used. 

To get the right help, it is essential for patients who have undergone hernia surgery to learn the hernia mesh infection symptoms.

Here are some of the common symptoms to look out for.

Flu-like symptoms

hernia mesh

If you experience nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, or body aches after a hernia repair surgery, then you could have a hernia mesh infection. Flu-like symptoms usually occur when your body is trying to fight off bacteria.

Your body’s white blood cells produce a chemical called pyrogen that binds with your brain’s hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating body temperature. As your body attacks the bacteria, you will naturally get warmer. Though your body’s temperature fluctuates throughout the day, having a constant high fever is a cause for concern. 

Inflammation

After your surgery, the implantation area will feel a bit sore. If the initial swelling worsens, it could mean your abdomen is inflamed.  Many mesh products used to repair hernias are made with polypropylene, which is known to cause inflammation.

While this inflammation promotes tissue growth in and around the implanted mesh to form a stronger bond, the inflammation can sometimes continue and eventually cause infection. The inflammation can also lead to tenderness and abdominal pain that could make everyday life painful and difficult.

Redness and Burning Sensation at the Implant Area

It is normal to experience a little redness near the implant area after your surgery. If the implant area, however, stays red, it could indicate a mesh infection. The tender skin could also be accompanied by seromas, which form from a buildup of fluid.

On some occasions, the redness might also include a burning sensation, clinically referred to as paresthesia. The burning sensation could range from mild to severe and could be chronic or sporadic. If it persists, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Lack of Healing

An often-overlooked mesh infection symptom is a lack of healing. If your hernia mesh is infected, it could prevent the incision site from healing fully. You might not have any other symptoms, so this can be hard to spot. 

If the area seems to be messy and painful for a long time after your surgery, something could be hindering your complete recovery.

Chronic Pain

Pain is another common symptom of infection and can sometimes be chronic, affecting your ability to comfortably stand, move around, or perform routine activities such as household tasks. The pain could be a result of growing scar tissue or nerve damage.

Sometimes, chronic pain could also be a symptom of other mesh complications like organ perforation, bowel obstruction, and mesh migration. 

You should pay extra attention to your incision area if you have gone through a femoral or inguinal hernia repair.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes trap viruses and harmful bacteria, keeping them from infecting the rest of your body. When your lymph nodes swell, it often means that your body is trying to fight against infections. 

Swollen groin lymph nodes are especially concerning after hernia mesh surgery. 

Warmth at the Incision Area

Hernia mesh infections can generate heat, which you can sometimes feel when you touch the skin surrounding the incision area. This heat is usually accompanied by redness or tenderness.

 

Treatment Approaches for Hernia Mesh Infections

It is essential that you seek treatment should you notice any of the above hernia mesh infection symptoms. 

Delayed or neglected treatment could cause:

  • Implant rejection
  • Organ damage
  • Hernia recurrence
  • Cancer
  • Death

When seeking medical attention, your physician could use radiological imaging such as CT scans and ultrasounds to determine the presence of an infection. For basic infections, you might only need a round of antibiotics to clear up the bacteria. 

Sometimes, when a hernia mesh develops an infection, it forms a biofilm, which is a highly organized colony of bacteria. Once the infection forms a biofilm, it becomes highly resistant to antibiotics and will need your doctor to remove the hernia mesh surgically.

In any event, early detection should be your priority. The faster you notice these hernia mesh infection symptoms, the sooner doctors can respond and hopefully avoid the need for surgery.