Surgical mesh is often used in hernia repairs and in American women for stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (it’s illegal in other countries to treat gynecological issues). These medical devices have been linked to complications due to mesh erosion which can cause migration, organ perforation, bleeding, and other serious issues. A new study was recently published that also linked surgical mesh to a high rate of autoimmune disorders. If you have surgical mesh or are considering a procedure that uses a medical device implant, here is the information that you need to know.
Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, director of the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Alberta, closely monitored his patients and came to a shocking conclusion, “In my practice, I studied 40 patients who had mesh implants and found that almost all of them had symptoms such as chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment known as ‘brain fog,’ muscle and joint pain ‘fibromyalgia,’ feverish temperature, and dry eyes and dry mouth,” stated Dr. Cohen Tervaert. “Of those patients, 45 per cent developed an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. And in the patients who had allergies before the implant, they were significantly worse after.”
The Problem with Medical Device Implants
Unfortunately, complications can arise when any foreign object is inserted into the body. Similar symptoms have been frequently reported in patients who have silicone breast implants. “When a foreign body is put into the body, there is an instant activation of the immune system. It continues to fight the foreign body and eventually, over time, fatigues and becomes dysfunctional,” Dr. Cohen Tervaert explains. “Large-scale studies have shown that patients with breast implants have more symptoms of ASIA (autoimmune/auto-inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants) and an increased risk to develop an autoimmune disorder.
Doctors have determined that patients are genetically determined whether or not they’ll have an adverse autoimmune reaction to their medical device. Dr. Cohen Tervaert found that pre-existing allergies were present in 80% of breast implant patients which just so happened to be the same percentage of patients who had allergies in his patient group involving mesh. While it seems like an obvious answer is to have patients genetically tested for allergies before having a medical device implanted, unfortunately a test like this does not yet exist.
Many patients recovered after having the medical device removed in situations involving breast implants, but this type of surgery is more complicated with surgical mesh. Tissue and nerves can grow in and around the mesh making it virtually impossible to take out the entire device for countless patients.
Discussing your concerns with your doctor and carefully weighing the risks versus the benefits are two ways to protect your health. Also, familiarize yourself with the symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders. The sooner you call your doctor to address these issues, the better chance you have at recovery.