Surgical mesh implants may cause autoimmune disorders

U of A doctor says more research is needed to confirm mesh-implanted patient symptoms are linked with autoimmune disorder.

15 September 2019

Original Story: CTV National

Artwork by Natasia Designs

Surgical mesh implants, often used for hernia or gynecological repair, may be the reason so many patients report symptoms suggesting an autoimmune disorder, according to a University of Alberta rheumatologist.

"In my practice, I studied 40 patients who had mesh implants," said Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, director of rheumatology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "I found that almost all of them had symptoms such as chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment … muscle and joint pain … feverish temperature and dry eyes and dry mouth." \

"Of those patients, 45 per cent developed an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis."

"What we found is that actually most of the patients-80 per cent-did have pre-existent allergies," added Cohen Tervaert, "and those allergies often increased after the mesh implantation."

"You could say the immune system (in those patients) is in a way very aggressive and therefore it attacks the mesh more severely than in patients who do not have allergies."

More research, Cohen Tervaert says, needs to be done quickly to ensure that others don't suffer needlessly.

"The findings in my small study point in the direction that if you have preexisting allergies, you should be at least warned that there is a bigger chance of getting mesh complications," he explained.