Nine out of 10 hernia repairs in the United States make use of the hernia mesh device.
However, with the increasing number of cases filed in the hernia mesh lawsuit, where plaintiffs claim that they experienced numerous side effects and complications after they were implanted with a surgical mesh for their hernia repair surgery, this begs the question – is there an alternative to hernia mesh?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. There are a couple of mesh-free hernia repair techniques that surgeons can perform for patients.
Read on to learn more about the surgical alternatives to implanting the hernia mesh.
What Are the Alternatives to Hernia Mesh Surgery?
Hernias are a common medical problem that affect men, women, and even children. Usually, hernias do not go away on their own and surgical intervention is necessary.
This is why surgeons in the U.S. perform more than one million hernia repairs each year, with inguinal hernia repair accounting for approximately 800,000 of repair surgeries, while the rest are for other types of hernias.
But surgery using mesh is not the only way to fix hernias. There are actually a number of alternative surgical techniques that can be done by a surgeon if you are aiming for a no mesh hernia repair.
Some of these no mesh hernia repair procedures are:
- Component Separation Technique
- McVay/Cooper’s Ligament
These alternatives for hernia repair are also known as “pure tissue repair” techniques. They involve strengthening the muscle and tissue by stitching the patient’s own tissue back together to repair the hernia.
Component Separation Technique
During a component separation technique (CST), some parts of the abdominal wall are cut, separated, and then joined together at the middle for sufficient closure. This method takes around two hours and is suitable for patients who have giant abdominal wall hernias, but is not suitable for those who have inguinal hernias.
This technique restores the integrity of the abdominal wall and its aesthetic appearance.
Bassini Hernia Repair
Dr. Edoardo Bassini, the italian surgeon who introduced this technique in 1887, is sometimes also known as the father of modern inguinal hernia surgery.
The Bassini technique for treatment of inguinal hernia is a cost-effective alternative to hernia surgery and is widely preferred in countries with limited medical resources. It involves the reconstruction fo the abdominal wall with a suture comprising the upper side of the hernia and the ligament below.
Back then, there was only a 3 percent rate of hernia recurrence with the method. However, changes have been applied to the procedure since then and the modified Bassini technique now have a recurrence rate of 10 to 15 percent.
Marcy Hernia Repair
The Marcy hernia repair is designed for indirect hernias. The surgeon first separates the hernia sac fromt he spermatic cord, and then tightens the entrance to the inguinal canal so as to make it too small for something to pass through it.
Post-operative pain is minimal with the Marcy hernia repair, and there is a low incidence of recurrence.
McVay/Cooper’s Ligament Hernia Repair
The McVay hernia repair has been around for over 50 years. In a McVay hernia repair, the surgeon sews the muscle on one side of the hernia opening to the Cooper’s ligament in order to close the inguinal floor.
This method was used to repair a femoral hernia before the existence of mesh.
The Shouldice hernia repair was developed by Canadian Dr. Edward Earle Shouldice during World War II. The hospital that the doctor founded in Toronto, Canada still specializes in the Shouldice Technique.
The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and involves placing tension on muscle tissue around the hernia. The Shouldice technique uses steel wires and results in a four-layer repair.
The rate of hernia recurrence for the Shouldice repair has been found to be equal or at times better compared to a hernia mesh repair.
In fact, a 2016 study that compared hernia patients who were implanted with the surgical mesh to have their hernias fixed to those patients who had a hernia repair with the Shouldice method.
The study found that the rate of recurrence for mesh repair patients was at 5 percent, while the incidence of recurrence for Shouldice patients was at about 1.15 percent.
Can Hernia Be Treated With Medication?
Sadly, there are no medications that can directly cure a hernia. Surgery to repair a hernia remain the only definitive treatment for it. If a hernia is left untreated, it can potentially become a medical emergency.
In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medications to treat symptoms that can worsen a hernia. For instance, a doctor may recommend medications to reduce chronic coughing, which can strain or worsen a groin hernia. However, these medicines cannot cure a hernia and it could still get worse without proper treatment.
Mesh vs. No Mesh Hernia Repair
Are these surgical alternatives better than using surgical mesh for hernia surgery? The answer to that is still unclear as studies have conflicting findings when comparing hernia repair options.
For instance, alternatives to mesh repair have been known to have a lesser rate of later complications, including infections and organ damage. However, experts say that no mesh procedures can be complicated and may take a long time for doctors to successfully master.
Moreover, many hospitals and schools do not teach these surgical alternatives to hernia mesh anymore.
On the other hand, although the hernia mesh device is known to significantly reduce the length of the surgery and the amount of time a patient can recover, a wide array of complications and side effects is associated with defective hernia mesh products.
Some hernia mesh complications include nerve entrapment, bowel perforation, bowel obstruction, infection, abdominal pain, adhesions, a recurrent hernia, and a higher rate of revision surgery, which is a surgery performed to remove the mesh implant in patients who experience mesh-related complications.
A patient should carefully consider the differences between mesh and no mesh repair. You can talk to your doctor about your concerns as well as the potential risks and side effects of some hernia mesh products.
If you are concerned about suffering from hernia mesh failure, you can ask your doctor about surgical alternatives to mesh repair. There might be a good chance for you to have a pure tissue repair especially if your hernia is still mild or minor.
However, if you have received a mesh implant for your hernia repair surgery and are suffering from side effects, complications, or health problems, you should seek immediate medical attention.