On May 13, Chris DeArmitt from Phantom Plastics appeared on 60 Minutes, touching on some of the dangers associated with mesh constructed from polypropylene (PP) sourced from China and Texas. In a subsequent interview, he discussed more regarding the inherent properties that become hazardous after being implanted permanently.
Polymers in Mesh
Aside from PP, a mesh may also be comprised of PVDF, PET or PTPFE, a type of Teflon. Each of these polymers come with their own unique set of pros and cons when they are used in a mesh. Even with just polypropylene, the polymer is so unstable that the outcome often varies depending on a number of different factors.
Factors Affecting PP Mesh
At body temperature or even room temperature, oxygen can deteriorate PP mesh very quickly. There are several expert reports detailing this dynamic. The type and amount of antioxidant stabilizer used to determine how long the PP mesh will hold up in different applications.
Marlex mesh doesn’t contain nearly enough stabilizer to endure decades inside the body and the newer mesh from China has substantially less. However, there are manufacturers who add more stabilizer to Marlex mesh so it doesn’t degrade as quickly.
Newer Mesh vs Older Mesh
The mesh women receive today is significantly different from what’s been used in the past. PP mesh does cause undesirable reactions inside the body so many professionals prioritize using lightweight mesh or mesh with less PP. The newer mesh features larger pores than earlier models because it works more effectively inside the body.
The new mesh can also be equipped with a coating that helps mitigate the negative reactions PP has inside the body. However, common forms of mesh typically don’t have the coating and can lead to chronic reactions inside the body that cause pain and discomfort.
Whether it’s a hernia or gynecologic mesh, patients should be asking what type of mesh polymer is used and if there is a viable alternative available. Generally speaking, and according to a number of peer-reviewed articles, PP mesh isn’t bio-compatible.
Experts recommend patients consult medical professionals for a second or third opinion to see if another procedure could be just as effective without mesh.