Ventral Hernias: An FAQ

 By: Peter Kent
Ventral hernias, also known as incisional hernias, are experienced by thousands of Americans each year, and most of these hernias necessitate surgical hernia repair. Many individuals with this questions find themselves having questions about the condition and the treatment options available to them. Thus, here are a collection of frequently asked questions about ventral hernias, with answers that seek to she light on this subject.

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when an organ begins to protrude or push through the wall of muscle that surrounds it. What is a ventral hernia?

Ventral hernias can also be known as incisional hernias. Ventral hernias occur when a piece of an abdominal organ such as the intestine or bowel bursts through a weak area of a patient's abdominal wall where an old surgical scar is located.

Why do ventral hernias occur?

Post-operative scar tissue can stretch or thin out after surgery, leading to weak spots in the abdomen. The scar tissue can then stretch out or thin due to straining during bowel movements, intense or recurrent coughing, weight gain, pregnancy, vomiting, or strenuous physical activity such as weightlifting. These make the abdominal wall more susceptible to strain and hernia.

Who is at risk for ventral hernias?

Pregnant and obese patients are at especial risks; patients who have had abdominal surgery in the past are also at risk.

Are ventral hernias dangerous?

Yes. In fact, the United States has the world's highest mortality rate for ventral hernias. Some ventral hernias incarcerate, or trap, internal organs and require immediate surgical intervention.

How do I know if I have a ventral hernia?

You will need a doctor's diagnosis in order to confirm a suspected ventral hernia. Common symptoms of ventral hernia include discomfort or tenderness while lifting heavy objects, coughing or putting other stress on the body; bulges in the abdominal area, some of which may be pushed back into place or disappear when laying down; constipation; vomiting and nausea; or abdominal pain.

If you suspect you have a ventral hernia, visit your doctor. Your doctor will examine you and possibly ask you to cough while he presses into your abdominal area in order to find the potential hernia.

How can a ventral hernia be treated?

Some ventral hernias are treated with a truss, a special belt that keeps the hernia from bulging and pushing through the abdominal wall. Others are treated with a recommendation that the patient refrain from any strenuous activity. However, surgery is more common; herniorrhaphy procedures repair the abdominal wall after pressing the piece of organ back into its original position.

As medical technology progresses, laparoscopic procedures are more common. These operations are performed with a special device that allows the surgeon to view the interior of the abdomen while performing surgery. This specific procedure necessitates only very small incisions and usually involves much a much smaller amount of recovery time than other traditional surgical procedures.

Sometimes, doctors insert a mesh hernia patch, such as the Bard Composix Kugel Mesh Patch, to reinforce the area of ventral hernia. A small incision is made and the mesh patch is folded and placed behind the hernia area. The patch then springs open due to its "memory recoil ring" technology, which causes it to lay flat in the appropriate area and reinforce the hernia.

What about the Bard Kugel Mesh Patch recall?

The FDA recently updated a 2005 recall on some larger sizes of the Bard Composix Kugel Mesh Patch, citing failures in the "memory recoil rings" that cause the patch to rupture the bowel or create abnormal organ passageways (intestinal fistulae). Davol, which manufactures and distributes the patch, has issued voluntary recalls of the Composix patches in the past and may do so again; in any case, it faces lawsuits and legal action related to medical complications from failed mesh hernia patches.

What should I do if I've been affected by the hernia mesh recall?

In the case that you or a loved one has been affected by the failure of a hernia patch, or would like to learn more about the hernia patch recall, it is perhaps in your best interest to contact an experienced medical device attorney as soon as possible. Your hernia patch lawyer can help assess your case and assist you with your claim against Bard in relation to its defective hernia patch. You may even be eligible for compensation for medical expenses and other related costs. If you feel as though these experiences apply to you or a loved one, it may be in your best interest to contact and speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
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