Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Groff, Richard E.

Committee Member

Burg , Timothy C.

Committee Member

LaBerge , Martine


Hernias are defects in the layers of the abdominal wall that can cause discomfort or pain and lead to serious health problems if left untreated. A significant portion of the world's population is afflicted by hernia formation, and the cost of treating those affected is in the billions of dollars in the US alone. The current best practices for repairing hernias involve the surgical implantation of polymeric meshes over and around the defect site. The mesh, acting as a synthetic replacement for the damaged abdominal wall layers, provides a barrier to further visceral protrusions through the defect, a support framework for the surrounding tissue, and, depending on the design of the mesh, a lattice for permanent incorporation into the body.
Current repair meshes provide excellent reinforcement of the abdominal wall and closure of existing hernias, but recurrence rates are still high for some hernia types, and other complications are not uncommon. Historically, research on the treatment of hernias has focused on reducing these complications through refinement of surgical technique or mesh composition. The ultimate goal of the research presented in this thesis is to advance the body of knowledge on mesh composition by providing a new avenue for investigating mesh properties.
While most hernia mesh researchers use animal models or patient studies to evaluate prostheses, we have developed an in vitro-centric mesh production and examination system to characterize mesh properties that affect the cellular affinity and treatment potential of repair mesh. These properties, known to impact implant success, are: material composition, surface architecture, pore configuration, and filament structure.
Feasibility studies conducted on auto-loom woven, degummed silk mesh seeded with murine-derived D1 multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells yielded promising results. The in vitro evaluation procedure and auto-loom mesh production described in this work are a first step toward developing a simple, inexpensive polymer post processing method to facilitate cell response-directed mesh design. It is hoped that by providing the means to evaluate mesh properties, a more successful hernia mesh prosthesis can be developed.



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