Home E-Weekly January 19, 2016

The New Buzz About Hernia Mesh

Published: January 18, 2016

Is your supply budget bruised by the sky-high costs of hernia mesh? There's a cheaper, if unconventional, option, according to Swedish researchers. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, they note their discovery that mosquito netting — which can be purchased for roughly $3 a yard — works just as well when used for inguinal hernia repairs.

But don't run out to your local fabric store just yet. The researchers' study involved using the alternative mesh primarily in areas where surgical supplies are hard to come by, such as third-world medical facilities.

"Commercial hernia meshes cost $100 or more, which is too much for the health services and people living in poor countries," says Dr. Jenny Lofgren, researcher at Umea University in Sweden. "So instead, doctors and surgeons in several countries have been using mosquito nets, but whether they are effective and safe hasn't been given sufficient study until now."

For the study, 300 adult males in Uganda received hernia operations, either receiving the surgical mesh or sterilized mosquito netting. For a year afterward, researchers looked at the patients' satisfaction, post-op complications and rates of recurrence. They found that post-op complications in the netting group were "relatively mild" and did not occur at a rate significantly different than in those who received the standard surgical mesh. Additionally, the men in both groups reported similar levels of patient satisfaction.

"These results are of great potential benefit to the many millions of people who lack access to good surgical care for their hernias," says study project leader and surgeon Andreas Wladis, MD, PhD, associate professor at Stockholm South General (Soder) Hospital. "The next step will be to motivate greater resource allocation to treat hernia patients and plan for how mosquito nets could be used for hernia surgery on a larger scale."

Kendal Gapinski

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