A Medical Device Daily

Scientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine (MU; Columbia, Missouri) reported that they will use a $750,000 grant from Covidien (Pembroke, Bermuda) to make hernia surgeries safer and postoperative recoveries less burdensome.

The grant will help create what both parties are calling a first-of-its-kind materials characterization laboratory where researchers will study materials that physicians typically implant in patients during surgery to repair abdominal hernias.

More than 5 million people have hernias, and every year more than 500,000 operations are performed across the U.S. to repair the condition.

During surgery, physicians implant a synthetic mesh to patch the hernia. Polypropylene mesh is used rather than other methods, such as sutures, because the material reduces some postoperative complications, such as infection, and recurrence rates.

But the mesh technology also is nearly 50-years-old, and researchers with MU’s Biodesign and Innovation Program will work to study why sometimes the mesh changes after it is implanted and how to avoid the side effects for patients.

MU surgeons, engineers and other scientists will use the grant from Covidien to investigate the physical and chemical changes associated with biomedical and synthetic implants, such as the hernia mesh.

General Surgery at MU will oversee the lab with Sheila Grant, PhD, assistant professor of biological engineering at MU.

“Our research primarily involves examining mesh that has been removed from patients and analyzing what happened to the mesh inside the body,” Ramshaw said. “The interaction between the body and mesh is not well-studied, which prevents us from solving problems with recurrence, infection and chronic pain. If we discover the source of the problems, we might also have an opportunity to develop new and innovative products for patients.”

Mesh samples inside Petri dishes at Ramshaw and Grant’s lab are so wrinkled and twisted that they no longer resemble the soft white devices originally implanted in patients. “It shrinks, it shrivels and even changes color over time,” Grant said. “That’s not something you want to see when something is implanted in the body.”

Covidien makes a range of products, including surgical devices, energy-based devices, respiratory and monitoring solutions, patient care and safety products, imaging solutions, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and retail products.