Introduction: The material properties of meshes used in hernia repair contribute to the overall mechanical behavior of the repair. The anisotropic potential of synthetic meshes, representing a difference in material properties (e.g., elasticity) in different material axes, is not well defined to date. Haphazard orientation of anisotropic mesh material can contribute to inconsistent surgical outcomes. We aimed to characterize and compare anisotropic properties of commonly used synthetic meshes. Methods: Six different polypropylene (Trelex®, ProLite™, Ultrapro™), polyester (Parietex™), and PTFE-based (Dualmesh®, Infinit) synthetic meshes were selected. Longitudinal and transverse axes were defined for each mesh, and samples were cut in each axis orientation. Samples underwent uniaxial tensile testing, from which the elastic modulus (E) in each axis was determined. The degree of anisotropy (λ) was calculated as a logarithmic expression of the ratio between the elastic modulus in each axis. Results: Five of six meshes displayed significant anisotropic behavior. Ultrapro™ and Infinit exhibited approximately 12- and 20-fold differences between perpendicular axes, respectively. Trelex®, ProLite™, and Parietex™ were 2.3-2.4 times. Dualmesh® was the least anisotropic mesh, without marked difference between the axes. Conclusion: Anisotropy of synthetic meshes has been underappreciated. In this study, we found striking differences between elastic properties of perpendicular axes for most commonly used synthetic meshes. Indiscriminate orientation of anisotropic mesh may adversely affect hernia repairs. Proper labeling of all implants by manufacturers should be mandatory. Understanding the specific anisotropic behavior of synthetic meshes should allow surgeons to employ rational implant orientation to maximize outcomes of hernia repair.
- Biomechanical test