Although synthetic mesh is associated with superior anatomic outcomes for the repair of pelvic organ prolapse, the benefits of mesh have been questioned because of the relatively high complication rates. To date, the mechanisms that result in such complications are poorly understood, yet the textile characteristics of mesh products are believed to play an important role. Interestingly, the pore diameter of synthetic mesh has been shown to impact the host response after hernia repair greatly, and such findings have served as design criteria for prolapse meshes, with larger pores viewed as more favorable. Although pore size and porosity are well-characterized before implantation, the changes in these textile properties after implantation are unclear; the application of mechanical forces has the potential to greatly alter pore geometries in vivo. Understanding the impact of mechanical loading on the textile properties of mesh is essential for the development of more effective devices for prolapse repair.OBJECTIVE:
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of tensile loading and pore orientation on mesh porosity and pore dimensions.STUDY DESIGN:
In this study, the porosity and pore diameter of 4 currently available prolapse meshes were examined in response to uniaxial tensile loads of 0.1, 5, and 10 N while mimicking clinical loading conditions. The textile properties were compared with those observed for the unloaded mesh. Meshes included Gynemesh PS (Ethicon, Somerville, NJ), UltraPro (Artisyn; Ethicon), Restorelle (Coloplast, Minneapolis, MN), and Alyte Y-mesh (Bard, Covington, GA). In addition to the various pore geometries, 3 orientations of Restorelle (0-, 5-, 45-degree offset) and 2 orientations of UltraPro (0-, 90-degree offset) were examined.RESULTS:
In response to uniaxial loading, both porosity and pore diameter dramatically decreased for most mesh products. The application of 5 N led to reductions in porosity for nearly all groups, with values decreasing by as much as 87% (P < .05). On loading to 10 N of force, nearly all mesh products that were tested were found to have porosities that approached 0% and 0 pores with diameters >1 mm.CONCLUSION:
In this study, it was shown that the pore size of current prolapse meshes dramatically decreases in response to mechanical loading. These findings suggest that prolapse meshes, which are more likely to experience tensile forces in vivo relative to hernia repair meshes, have pores that are unfavorable for tissue integration after surgical tensioning and/or loading in urogynecologic surgeries. Such decreases in pore geometry support the hypothesis that regional increases in the concentration of mesh leads to an enhanced local foreign body response. Although pore deformation in transvaginal meshes requires further characterization, the findings presented here provide a mechanical understanding that can be used to recognize potential areas of concern for complex mesh geometries. Understanding mesh mechanics in response to surgical and in vivo loading conditions may provide improved design criteria for mesh and a refinement of surgical techniques, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.