Hernia repair, revolutionized

January 9, 2013 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.

Explore further: Chipping away at cancer

Related Stories

Chipping away at cancer

June 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 to better ...

The language of neural cells

August 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 of neuron ...

Data mining in the social-media ecosystem

September 18, 2012

Ray­mond Fu, a newly appointed assis­tant pro­fessor of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering, wants to build a better social-​​media ecosystem, one in which Face­book makes expert friend rec­om­men­da­tions ...

A tiny electrode fuels smart bandage technology

December 4, 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 of antibi­otics ...

Smart pens to help control hand tremors

January 3, 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 to writing a note, ...

Recommended for you

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

Zika infection may affect adult brain cells

August 18, 2016

Concerns over the Zika virus have focused on pregnant women due to mounting evidence that it causes brain abnormalities in developing fetuses. However, new research in mice from scientists at The Rockefeller University and ...

Immune breakthrough: Unscratching poison ivy's rash

August 23, 2016

We all know that a brush with poison ivy leaves us with an itchy painful rash. Now, Monash University and Harvard researchers have discovered the molecular cause of this irritation. The finding brings us a step closer to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.