6 Oct 2017

Patients 'terrified of mesh' driving fear of hernia surgery

From Nine To Noon, 9:09 am on 6 October 2017

Patients are turning down the best surgery treatment for hernias out of fear of the use of surgical mesh, a Christchurch Hospital surgeon says.

Around 5000 hernia repairs are carried out every year in New Zealand but surgeon Steven Kelly said publicity over complications with the use of the mesh in transvaginal surgery meant some patients were avoiding the treatment.

Mr Kelly told Nine to Noon transvaginal mesh was different from the surgical mesh used for the abdominal wall or groin.


Photo: 123RF

He said it was important patients knew the difference and that the risk for chronic pain after hernia repair was only one percent.

"That means 50 people a year in New Zealand are going to be developing disabling pain and they of course are the people that are going to the media.

"It's very important that the argument is balanced and that the vast majority of people who have a hernia repair actually have very good outcomes and are very happy with their operation."

He said there were many factors that influenced the risk of an unsuccessful mesh operation.

"Take for example transvaginal mesh which is very different, that's mesh placed around the vagina, the risk profile is different so when the mesh is taken out transvaginally, 50 percent of women will continue to have pain.

"It was initially thought that mesh placed around the vagina was as safe as mesh placed around in abdominal wall or groin, and it's clearly not turned out to be the case."

He said the majority of patients who underwent a hernia repair had a successful result, while patients who got alternative surgery for hernias had an almost four times higher hernia recurrence rate.