“The toe bone's connected to the foot bone, the foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the leg bone…” You may recognize this popular children’s song. It teaches kids the way some human body parts should be connected.

But what if two parts of the body are fused together when they shouldn’t be? If this abnormal connection occurs within the body – between organs or blood vessels – it’s called a fistula. Unfortunately, it’s a term you may be hearing if you’ve experienced complications from defective hernia mesh.

In this blog post, I discuss fistula formation following hernia mesh surgery and provide information on legal recourses for victims of defective mesh.

Fistula Formation

Fistulas occur when there is an abnormal connection between two internal body parts. Although people can be born with fistulas, they can also form as a complication from surgery, injury, infection, or certain diseases.

If defective hernia mesh implanted during surgery migrates through tissue, shrinks, erodes, or otherwise disturbs or perforates internal organs and tissue, it can create conditions where fistulas are able to form.

Types of fistulas known to form in areas where surgical mesh is used include: urinary tract fistulas; anal fistulas; and, intestinal fistulas.

Symptoms of Fistulas

Some fistulas cause no noticeable symptoms and may resolve on their own. However, others require antibiotic treatment or corrective surgery.

Untreated fistulas can be debilitating and result in nerve damage, chronic infection, malnutrition or dehydration (if in the intestinal tract), or kidney failure.

Symptoms of fistulas can include, but are not limited to: abscesses, swelling, bleeding, sepsis, pain, fever, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, and abnormally high white blood cell count.

Diagnosing Fistulas

Some symptoms of fistulas are common to other ailments, including other complications from defective hernia mesh. If a fistula is not externally visible, diagnosis can be challenging. Diagnostic tests used by physicians include:

  • Endoscopies using a flexible tube with a small camera attached;
  • Radiography using barium; and/or,
  • Ultrasounds or CT scans.

What If I Believe I Developed a Fistula Following Hernia Mesh Surgery?

If you or a loved one is experiencing or has experienced symptoms of fistulas following a hernia mesh surgery – even if they occur weeks, months, or years after the surgery took place, it’s important to contact your doctor or surgeon and provide a detailed medical history. Defective mesh may be the cause of your symptoms and your doctor should be aware that this material, which has been known to cause fistulas, was implanted into your body.

What Can I Do If Defective Hernia Mesh Caused a Fistula In My Body?

Fistulas caused by defective mesh – particularly those resulting in the need for corrective surgery – cause people unnecessary pain and hardship. Victims of defective hernia mesh do have legal options to sue the manufacturer of their faulty medical product for damages.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a hernia mesh-related fistula that requires surgery, I would be pleased to answer your questions about your legal rights. For more information or to speak about a hernia mesh lawsuit in Canada, please contact hernia mesh lawyer Paul Miller at 416-646-3901 or by email at pmiller@hshlawyers.com.