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A prominent Sydney groin surgeon has called for the use of mesh to be banned in hernia operations due to the long-term complications it can cause.

Dr. John Garvey, who specializes in non-mesh hernia repairs, said the medical profession relied too heavily on the use of mesh to repair hernias and its potentially devastating side effects were underestimated.

His comments come as more men and women continue to share post hernia surgery horror stories.

Mesh has been commonly used to repair hernias surgically since the late 1980s in Australia.

According to General Surgeons Australia it is considered safe and has a low risk of complications.

Doctors at Holroyd Private Hospital in 1997 carried out mesh repair of a hernia in the groin.
Doctors at Holroyd Private Hospital in 1997 carried out mesh repair of a hernia in the groin. (Steven Siewert)

However, revelations in recent years about the number of women’s lives destroyed by pelvic mesh, which led to a convicting Senate investigation in 2018 and a massive class action lawsuit against the medical giant Johnson & Johnson, meant that patients with hernia mesh was now questioning her symptoms, Dr. Garvey said.

“I think the pelvic mesh drama could have been the catalyst for questions about the inguinal (groin) mesh,” he said.

“People were having all kinds of weird symptoms, but it only clicked after the pelvic mesh situation came to light that they could be related to the inguinal mesh.”

Dr. Garvey said that the most common complication he saw in hernia mesh patients was chronic groin pain from nerve damage.

A much smaller number of patients also appeared to have developed autoimmune diseases, he said.

Dr. John Garvey has called for a ban on hernia mesh.
Dr. John Garvey has called for a ban on hernia mesh. (Supplied)

Dr. Garvey, who also specializes in surgical mesh removal, said he had seen “lives turned upside down and destroyed” because of it.

“It’s certainly a big problem and I think it’s underrated,” he said.

“Many patients end up in severe financial and personal hardship just from undergoing simple hernia repair.

“The mind is stunned. Decades ago, before mesh was invented, it was standard, a small operation that could be performed under local anesthesia.

“Now it has turned into a great catastrophe.”

At a minimum, patients should have the option of a non-mesh repair and warn them of potential mesh complications, he said.

Ultimately, Dr. Garvey said he would like to see a complete ban on the products.

“I would like to see the mesh totally withdrawn from the market, except for use in rare cases where a meshless repair is not possible.”

However, Dr Garvey said that the rest of the Australian medical profession would probably disagree with him.

“I would have a lot of trouble convincing other surgeons of that opinion, I’m in the 0.1 percent minority.”

Each year, there are about 100,000 Australians hospitalized for hernias, according to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).

It is not known how many of these people have mesh hernias repaired or what the complication rate is.

A UK study published in the British Medical Journal in 2018 quoted leading surgeons as saying that the complication rate from hernia mesh could range from 12 to 30 percent.

General Surgeons Australia has previously estimated the figure at around five percent.

Associate Professor Kellee Slater, former National President of General Surgeons Australia, said complications from hernia mesh cannot be compared to the now well-known problems surrounding pelvic mesh.

Hernia mesh was generally very safe, but patients had to be informed of the risks, Dr. Slater said.

“Mesh used correctly with the correct technique and with proper patient preparation is very safe and reduces the risk of hernia recurrence, but … like all medical devices, there can be complications associated with it and every patient you consider mesh insertion needs to be aware of these risks so they can make an informed decision. “

Victorian man wins hernia mesh payment

In the US, manufacturers have so far settled more than 50,000 hernia mesh lawsuits worth more than $ 1 billion.

While no Australian law firm should bring a class action lawsuit over hernia mesh, as has been done with pelvic mesh, individual lawsuits against surgeons and physicians have been resolved.

Victorian man Alan Adams received a seven-figure payment after a hernia operation in 2013.
Victorian man Alan Adams received a seven-figure payment after a hernia operation in 2013. (Supplied: Alan Adams)

Former attorney Alan Adams says his life was shattered when a surgeon operated on and mesh his groin for a “hernia” that turned out to be non-existent in 2013.

His claim was settled for a confidential amount in July this year after initiating legal proceedings against his surgeon and Victoria hospital.

“The moment I solved the case, I had joy for about two hours and then I fell into this big dark hole,” he said.

“I realized the reality that my body was wrecked for life. No amount of money was going to pay for that.”

Adams said she had since undergone three surgeries to correct problems caused by her initial mesh surgery, which included severe pain caused by nerve damage, bladder and bowel incontinence, and sexual dysfunction.

“It has been an absolutely horrendous journey of seven years. I have always been a very fit person, I was a grade A footballer and a grade A squash player. I used to go jogging, I used to have a normal relationship with my partner. , and now I feel like I’m 100 years old. “

Australia among first to act, says TGA

A spokesman for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said Australia was one of the first countries to respond to reports of mesh-related adverse events.

In December 2018, all surgical mesh, including hernia mesh, was reclassified from “medium risk” to “high risk”, increasing both pre-market and post-market scrutiny, the spokesperson said.

All patients undergoing surgical mesh operations should now receive a brochure and an implant card that warns of the potential risks of the device, the spokesperson said.

Since 2006, the Therapeutic Products Administration (TGA) has received 903 event reports for mesh devices: 713 adverse event reports for pelvic mesh and 190 adverse event reports for all other surgical mesh, including mesh for hernias

‘It’s a generational thing’

Dr. Garvey said he was concerned that many surgeons were not adequately trained to perform non-mesh hernia repairs, which only involve sutures.

“I think perhaps surgeons have lost the skills to do meshless repairs,” he said, adding that after mesh was introduced to the market in the late 1980s, “everyone was using it.”

“Many people consider it the gold standard for hernia repair.

“There is a generation behind me that has never done a meshless repair.”

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]


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