Changes in pelvic organ prolapse mesh mechanical properties following implantation in rats

Daniela Ulrich, Sharon Lee Edwards, David L J Alexander, Anna Rosamilia, Jerome A. Werkmeister, Caroline E. Gargett, Vincent Letouzey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a multifactorial disease that manifests as the herniation of the pelvic organs into the vagina. Surgical methods for prolapse repair involve the use of a synthetic polypropylene mesh. The use of this mesh has led to significantly higher anatomical success rates compared with native tissue repairs, and therefore, despite recent warnings by the Food and Drug Administration regarding the use of vaginal mesh, the number of POP mesh surgeries has increased over the last few years. However, mesh implantation is associated with higher postsurgery complications, including pain and erosion, with higher consecutive rates of reoperation when placed vaginally. Little is known on how the mechanical properties of the implanted mesh itself change in vivo. It is assumed that the mechanical properties of these meshes remain unchanged, with any differences in mechanical properties of the formed mesh-tissue complex attributed to the attached tissue alone. It is likely that any changes in mesh mechanical properties that do occur in vivo will have an impact on the biomechanical properties of the formed mesh-tissue complex. Objective The objective of the study was to assess changes in the multiaxial mechanical properties of synthetic clinical prolapse meshes implanted abdominally for up to 90 days, using a rat model. Another objective of the study was to assess the biomechanical properties of the formed mesh-tissue complex following implantation. Study Design Three nondegradable polypropylene clinical synthetic mesh types for prolapse repair (Gynemesh PS, Polyform Lite, and Restorelle) and a partially degradable polypropylene/polyglecaprone mesh (UltraPro) were mechanically assessed before and after implantation (n = 5/ mesh type) in Sprague Dawley rats for 30 (Gynemesh PS, Polyform Lite, and Restorelle) and 90 (UltraPro and Polyform Lite) days. Stiffness and permanent extension following cyclic loading, and breaking load, of the preimplanted mesh types, explanted mesh-tissue complexes, and explanted meshes were assessed using a multi-axial (ball-burst) method. Results The 4 clinical meshes varied from each other in weight, thickness, porosity, and pore size and showed significant differences in stiffness and breaking load before implantation. Following 30 days of implantation, the mechanical properties of some mesh types altered, with significant decreases in mesh stiffness and breaking load, and increased permanent extension. After 90 days these changes were more obvious, with significant decreases in stiffness and breaking load and increased permanent extension. Similar biomechanical properties of formed mesh-tissue complexes were observed for mesh types of different preimplant stiffness and structure after 90 days implantation. Conclusion This is the first study to report on intrinsic changes in the mechanical properties of implanted meshes and how these changes have an impact on the estimated tissue contribution of the formed mesh-tissue complex. Decreased mesh stiffness, strength, and increased permanent extension following 90 days of implantation increase the biomechanical contribution of the attached tissue of the formed mesh-tissue complex more than previously thought. This needs to be considered when using meshes for prolapse repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260e1-260e8
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • mechanical properties
  • multiaxial testing
  • pelvic organ prolapse
  • polypropylene mesh
  • rat abdominal hernia model

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