Marlex Mesh, a type of mesh developed and manufactured by Phillips Petroleum Company, was found in the small intestine and bowels of a woman who had it implanted for the treatment of a periumbilical hernia 13 years earlier.
At the age of 50, 13 years after having Marlex Mesh implanted to treat a hernia, a woman discovered mesh in her feces. She had been suffering from what she was told was IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for 10 years before doctors discovered what the true cause of her slow bowels and constipation was. The woman complained of abdominal pain and bloating, and reported only having one bowel movement per week, on average. After 10 years of suffering, she began to notice Marlex Mesh in her stools.
The Marlex Mesh had actually completely moved from the site of the hernia to inside the bowel. A colonoscopy confirmed that the mesh was actually partially obstructing the intestines and bowel. Doctors had to re-sect a portion of the intestines to remove the mesh. Since the surgery, the patient has reported that her IBS like symptoms have completely resolved. She is having normal bowel movements again, and her bloating and abdominal discomfort was gone just 2 days after having the Marlex Mesh removed.
According to a search done through PubMed, there are 14 other cases similar to this, involving the migration of Marlex Mesh. This type of mesh has historically been used to treat hernias, although it has been used in some cases as a transvaginal mesh.
Believe it or not, Marlex Mesh was originally developed by chemists to be used in milk jugs and a specific brand of hula hoop, called Wham-O. On June 8th, 1959, Marlex Mesh obtained its federal trademark, and it was first used to treat an inguinal hernia that very same year.
This product, actually made and developed for use in hoola hoops and milk jugs, has been surgically implanted into people since 1959 to treat hernias. Marlex Mesh was originally made out of HDPE (high-density polyethylene). It is now made out of polypropylene fibers that have been knitted to make it more pliable and easy to use. A mesh patched called Davol/Bard Composix Kugel was made from Marlex Mesh, but was forced into recall by the FDA in March of 2006. Now, Marlex makes the PerFix Patch and Plug.
As more and more Marlex Mesh complications and cases are reported, it is likely that this product may undergo additional scrutiny and may be removed from the market until further testing and research can be done. For those individuals who have had procedures where Marlex Mesh was used, it is important to note that complications related to the migration of this product are becoming more and more common.