A hernia, which occurs when an organ or tissue bulges through a weak spot in the surrounding tissue, is a common medical problem affecting more than 1 million Americans each year according to the Food and Drug Administration. Although many hernias resolve with watchful waiting, others require surgical intervention.

Surgical mesh used to repair hernias increases the risk of complications. If you or a loved one has had hernia surgery with mesh, know the signs of failure so that you can seek immediate medical attention.

What complications can surgical mesh cause?

Surgical mesh may lead to infection and recurrence of the hernia. Your body may also reject the mesh.

Recalled mesh designs can cause life-threatening issues such as bowel obstruction and perforation. Some patients experience adhesion, in which tissues become fused together with scar tissue. Because issues may not arise until years later, you may not be aware that your surgery involved recalled mesh.

What are the signs of mesh-related complications?

The specific symptoms of mesh issues vary by complication. Most complications result in severe pain. Chronic infection causes high fever and flu-like symptoms. If your body rejects the mesh, swelling and redness develop at the surgical site.

Pieces of mesh can break free and migrate to other organs and tissues. This may cause bleeding, pain, flu-like symptoms, blood in the urine or redness and other signs of infection at the affected site.

Bowel obstruction causes the inability to pass gas or stool along with vomiting and nausea. You may experience a feeling of stiffness or rigidity in the abdomen.

How are complications treated?

Most patients who experience complications require a second surgery to remove the mesh and repair any damage. Adhesion and bowel obstructions also require surgical intervention.

Go to the hospital if you have signs of a hernia mesh issue, even if your surgery was some time ago. Be sure to tell the doctor who treats you about your hernia mesh surgery. Left untreated, these issues can lead to dangerous infection and septic shock.