Hernia repair, revolutionized

by Angela Herring
Fifth year mechanical engineering students Joseph Aaron, Andrew Edgerly, Charles O’Connell, Charles Sidoti, and David Stone developed a delivery device for hernia mesh surgeries. Credit: Brooks Canaday

Each year, more than one mil­lion patients in the U.S. undergo hernia repair surgery, the most common form of which takes place in the abdomen. The injury presents itself as a weak­ness in the abdom­inal wall until ulti­mately the tissue gives way, leaving an open hole.

In the most effec­tive form of surgery, the sur­geon lays a piece of mesh over the hole and secures it in place with bio-​​absorbable fas­teners. But the devices for deliv­ering these fas­teners are expen­sive, forcing some clin­i­cians to choose alter­na­tive, per­haps less ideal methods.

Under the direc­tion of engi­neering pro­fessor Jef­frey Ruberti, how­ever, a team of stu­dents devel­oped a reli­able and cost-​​effective new device to secure the fas­teners in place. The project was one of two win­ners in last semester's mechan­ical engi­neering Cap­stone competition.

A close-​​up of existing (first three items) sur­gical mesh fas­teners and a mockup of the helical fas­tener (right) devel­oped by High Road Med­ical. Credit: Brooks Canaday

While working on co-​​op last spring at a med­ical device com­pany called MoMelan, team member Charles Sidoti met North­eastern alumnus Jeff Cerier. In Feb­ruary of 2011, Cerier and his busi­ness part­ners estab­lished High Road Med­ical, which is devoted to devel­oping improved devices for cur­rent sur­gical and endo­scopic pro­ce­dures, with a focus on improving ease-​​of-​​use and lower per-​​procedure costs. Cerier and his team pre­sented the North­eastern group with a straight­for­ward chal­lenge: to develop a device for High Road's unique fas­tener design.

Sidoti and his fellow student-​​researchers Joseph Aaron, Andrew Edgerly, Charles O'Connell, and David Stone, designed and con­structed two reusable instru­ments, which they call the Tip Drive model and the Threaded Rotator model. The first uses both rota­tion and trans­la­tion to intro­duce the fas­tener; the latter is based entirely on rota­tion. Each has its own set of pros and cons, the stu­dents explained, but they all agreed the Tip Drive is a more robust design.

A novel rotary drive pro­vides tac­tile feed­back to sur­geons per­forming laparo­scopic surgery. Credit: Brooks Canaday

Mem­bers of the group also met with a sur­geon at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital to get an insider per­spec­tive on the industry stan­dard. "He said he hates all the devices on the market," said Aaron. "They feel flimsy and give no tac­tile feedback."

Cur­rently, sur­geons may think the fas­tener is prop­erly aligned, but won't know for sure until they deploy it. If not prop­erly aligned, fas­teners can drop into the abdom­inal cavity, intro­ducing more complications.

There­fore, in addi­tion to simply designing a reli­able device, mem­bers of the team decided to incor­po­rate a fea­ture that uses a novel force-​​amplification method to help sur­geons during the pro­ce­dure. The ampli­fier makes it pos­sible for users to feel the fas­tener coming into con­tact with a surface.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smart pens to help control hand tremors

Jan 03, 2013

(Phys.org)—Approx­i­mately 12 mil­lion people in the U.S. are affected by uncon­trolled tremors as a result of neu­ro­log­ical dis­or­ders such as Parkinson's dis­ease. From but­toning a shirt ...

A tiny electrode fuels smart bandage technology

Dec 04, 2012

(Phys.org)—Band-​​aid tech­nology has made incre­mental improve­ments in the years since its com­mer­cial intro­duc­tion in the late 1960s, the most impor­tant of which has been the incor­po­ra­tion ...

Chipping away at cancer

Jun 25, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- In the last two decades, the number of deaths from col­orectal cancer has steadily declined, according to the Amer­ican Cancer Society. While some of the decrease can be attrib­uted ...

The language of neural cells

Aug 23, 2012

Imagine if we could under­stand the lan­guage two neu­rons use to com­mu­ni­cate. We might learn some­thing about how thoughts and con­scious­ness are formed. At the very least, our improved under­standing ...

Recommended for you

Ebola kills 31 people in DR Congo: WHO

1 hour ago

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 31 people and the epidemic remains contained in a remote northwestern region, UN the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

3 hours ago

A worsening outbreak of dengue fever in Japan has claimed its first celebrities—two young models sent on assignment to the Tokyo park believed to be its source.

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

3 hours ago

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

16 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

22 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

User comments