A hernia is a clinical syndrome in which part of an internal organ or part of the body becomes displaced and extends through an opening in the bodily wall that previously contained it. Typically, this process involves a part of the intestine that protrudes through a weak point in the abdominal wall. Hernias can be divided into ventral abdominal hernias, inguinal hernias, hiatal hernias, and femoral hernias. As the abdominal wall experiences repetitive stress secondary to increased intra-abdominal pressure, microscopic tears within the tissue develop. Eventually, this can lead to decreased tissue strength, predisposing individuals to the development of hernias.
Laparoscopic Ventral Hernia Repair (LVHR) is a common procedure that has developed significantly over the years. Incisional hernias are the most common types of ventral abdominal hernias. Robotic hernia repairs are on the rise but result in extensive operation time and increasingly expensive healthcare costs.
Hernia mesh products are medical devices used in these types of repairs. Over a million implantations of mesh are done each year with approximately one-third of patients experiencing adverse side effects. These negative impacts include bowel obstruction, perforation of organs, and even the need for corrective surgery.
Over the years, there have been over 50,000 lawsuits related to hernia mesh products, but they aren’t stopping any time soon. As of January 18, 2023, there are 18,403 current lawsuits pending against just one manufacturer alone, C.R. Bard, in multidistrict litigation. The next bellwether trial is scheduled for May 2023.
Expert Witness Opportunities
There is much opportunity for general surgeons to make their mark as expert witnesses. An expert in general surgery would be able to opine on the broad scope of indications for laparoscopic hernia repair, as well as the risks and complications of which they are aware from the literature and from personal experience performing laparoscopic procedures.
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