Hips, Knees, and Hernia Mesh: When Does Gender Matter in Surgery?
- IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 10, Number 1, Spring 2017
- pp. 148-174
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This paper draws attention to gendered dimensions of surgical device failure, focusing on two case studies—hernia repair mesh for pelvic organ prolapse, and metal-on-metal hip implants. We explore possible reasons for higher rates of harms to women, including systematic biases in health research and device regulation. Given that these factors are readily identifiable, we look to feminist scholarship to understand what might maintain them, including the role of cultural factors within surgery, such as gendered communication patterns and sexism. We then canvas potential measures to mitigate the increased risk of harms faced by women who use implanted devices.