Cape Coral, FL: Shelley Markgraf had a hysterectomy in August, 2006. Her recovery took more than six months and she had another surgery - all because of Vicryl sutures made by Ethicon Inc., the same makers of Panacryl sutures. "My whole life stopped for six months - my family can attest to that," says Markgraf.
"Two weeks after my surgery I had severe pain in my bladder area so I went to the urologist but he told me that I had severe trauma in that area and it would take time to heal," says Markgraf. She had no idea, and neither did her urologist, that six months on, she would require another surgery to remove a granuloma - a small area of inflammation in the body due to tissue injury, such as from an infection. Turns out that the infection was caused from Vicryl "absorbable"sutures that her body did not absorb.
"I couldn't walk 50 feet without my bladder bleeding; when I went to the bathroom I peed blood and I felt like I was being stabbed every time I moved," she says. Markgraf was only 40 and in good shape before her hysterectomy, now she could barely walk.
"My boss was upset with me because I could only give her 50 percent - I am an assistant principle of a school with 1,000 kids so you can imagine my workload. All I did for the past six months was desk duty because I couldn't walk. I couldn't stay home because I ran out of sick days and yet, like most everybody else, I have a mortgage to pay," says Markgraf.
To make a long story short, Markgraf went back to the urologist four months later - after four months of agony. She had a cystoscope this time and sure enough, it was more than the 'healing process'. "He told me that I had an infection and it looked like a reaction to the stitches," she says.
"I had to wait another five weeks for the surgery to remove the granuloma. The second I walked out of the recovery room my pain was gone instantly - and the bleeding was gone. It was definitely a reaction from the stitches. There are three stitches left that haven't dissolved yet. I have no idea how many stitches I had - there was a four-inch incision sealed with them and another 2-inch incision sealed with these sutures.
"There was a recall on these Vicryl sutures two years ago and they are still being used - it boggles my mind!
"It's good to get my story told; not just because I am wanting compensation for my hospital bills and time off without pay, but more importantly, I want others to be aware of the potential danger of these sutures."
Ethicon Inc., is a division of Johnson & Johnson. It lists the following adverse reactions of Vicryl absorbable sutures on its website:
"Adverse effects associated with the use of this device include wound dehiscence, failure to provide adequate wound support in closure of the sites where expansion, stretching, or distension occur, failure to provide adequate wound support in elderly, malnourished or debilitated patients or in patients suffering from conditions which may delay wound healing, infection, minimal acute inflammatory tissue reaction, localized irritation when skin sutures are left in place for greater than 7 days, suture extrusion and delayed absorption in tissue with poor blood supply, calculi formation in urinary and biliary tracts when prolonged contact with salt solutions such as urine and bile occurs, and transitory local irritation at the wound site..."
Why are these sutures still on the market? Does the medical community read up on adverse side effects before using a product or are they influenced by aggressive Johnson & Johnson sales people?