A hernia is a weakening of a muscle wall (usually in the abdomen) that lets organs and tissue bulge through. Hernias cannot heal on their own and usually require surgical repair. One of the complications of hernia surgery, or herniorrhaphy, is infection of the materials used to repair the muscle wall.
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What is a Hernia?
A hernia occurs when tissues or organs from one part of your body poke or bulge through a weakened muscle wall. Although this most often occurs in the stomach, it can also be found in the groin. A hernia can be present with very little or no symptoms. In fact, the first time you notice your hernia is when it has developed complications, such as trapping tissue within it or cutting off circulation to other parts of the body.
Once your health care provider has determined that you have a hernia, he will advise you to have it surgically repaired. Even mild cases of hernia do not just go away. They only get worse. If you are healthy enough to have surgery, you should. There are two types of hernia repair surgery: open and laparoscopic. Open surgery involves the surgeon during the work with his hands using eyesight.
Laparoscopic surgery uses a lighted tool with a camera to guide the surgeon and uses a much smaller incision. Your surgeon will make an incision over your hernia to expose the misplaced tissue and push it back in place. Then he will repair the muscle wall, using a sterile mesh patch that can either be stapled or glued into place. Afterwards, he will close the incision and advise you to rest while recovering for the next six to eight weeks.
Although, hernia repair surgery is a relatively simple, it is not without its complications. One of its complications is mesh infections, the inflammation and irritation of the muscle wall after bacteria infects the area where the mesh is located. This more likely to happen during open hernia repair surgery than laparoscopic hernia repair surgery because the incision is larger and the wound is open longer. Symptoms of a mesh infection include tenderness, pain or burning in the surgery areas long after the recovery period. You may also notice a swelling or fluid retention in the area. A persistent fever is also another sign of infection.
Your infection will most likely be diagnosed by your health care provider during your follow up visit based on the symptoms. He may do an ultrasound or a computerized tomography scan (CT scan) to verify the condition. Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection. In most cases, surgical removal or replacement of the mesh is required to control a severe infection and prevent it from spreading to other areas.
There have been product recalls of mesh patches used in hernia repair surgery in the past. In both 2005 and 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for two separate type of mesh products because they had an increased risk of layer separation related complications. Nevertheless, mesh patch recalls have been few isolated occurrences and still have less risk of complications than other muscle repair materials, such as sutures.
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