Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 2717–2728 | Cite as

Development of novel electrospun absorbable polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds for hernia repair applications

  • Gregory C. Ebersole
  • Evan G. Buettmann
  • Matthew R. MacEwan
  • Michael E. Tang
  • Margaret M. Frisella
  • Brent D. Matthews
  • Corey R. DeekenEmail author



Permanent/nonresorbable hernia repair materials rely on profibrotic wound healing, and repair sites are commonly composed of disorganized tissue with inferior mechanical strength and risk of reherniation. Resorbable electrospun scaffolds represent a novel class of biomaterials, which may provide a unique platform for the design of advanced soft tissue repair materials. These materials are simple, inexpensive, nonwoven materials composed of polymer fibers that readily mimic the natural extracellular matrix. The primary goal of the present study was to evaluate the physiomechanical properties of novel electrospun scaffolds to determine their suitability for hernia repair. Based on previous experimentation, scaffolds possessing ≥20 N suture retention strength, ≥20 N tear resistance, and ≥50 N/cm tensile strength are appropriate for hernia repair.


Six novel electrospun scaffolds were fabricated by varying combinations of polymer concentration (10–12 %) and flow rate (3.5–10 mL/h). Briefly, poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) was dissolved in a solvent mixture and electrospun onto a planar metal collector, yielding sheets with randomly oriented fibers. Physiomechanical properties were evaluated through scanning electron microscopy, laser micrometry, and mechanical testing.


Scanning electron micrographs demonstrated fiber diameters ranging from 1.0 ± 0.1 μm (10 % PCL, 3.5 mL/h) to 1.5 ± 0.2 μm (12 % PCL, 4 mL/h). Laser micrometry demonstrated thicknesses ranging from 0.72 ± 0.07 mm (12 % PCL, 10 mL/h) to 0.91 ± 0.05 mm (10 % PCL, 3.5 mL/h). Mechanical testing identified two scaffolds possessing suture retention strengths ≥20 N (12 % PCL, 10 mL/h and 12 % PCL, 6 mL/h), and no scaffolds possessing tear resistance values ≥20 N (range, 4.7 ± 0.9 N to 10.6 ± 1.8 N). Tensile strengths ranged from 35.27 ± 2.08 N/cm (10 % PCL, 3.5 mL/h) to 81.76 ± 15.85 N/cm (12 % PCL, 4 mL/h), with three scaffolds possessing strengths ≥50 N/cm (12 % PCL, 10 mL/h; 12 % PCL, 6 mL/h; 12 % PCL, 4 mL/h).


Two electrospun scaffolds (12 % PCL, 10 mL/h and 12 % PCL, 6 mL/h) possessed suture retention and tensile strengths appropriate for hernia repair, justifying evaluation in a large animal model. Additional studies examining advanced methods of fabrication may further improve the unique properties of these scaffolds, propelling them into applications in a variety of clinical settings.


Hernia repair Scaffold Electrospinning Polycaprolactone Tensile strength 



This research was supported by research grants from the Washington University Bear Cub grant program, the Washington University Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery, and the Washington University Dean’s Summer Fellowship program.


Dr. Deeken is a consultant for Atrium Medical Corporation and C.R. Bard/Davol, Inc. and has received honoraria from Covidien and Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, as well as grant support from Atrium Medical Corporation, Covidien, Kensey Nash Corporation, and Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation. Dr. Matthews is a consultant for Atrium Medical Corporation and Ethicon, Inc. He also receives honoraria and research/equipment support from Atrium Medical Corporation, Ethicon EndoSurgery, Karl Storz Endoscopy, Stryker Endoscopy, and W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. Margaret M. Frisella is a consultant for Atrium Medical Corporation and receives honoraria from W.L. Gore & Associates. Gregory C. Ebersole, Evan G. Buettmann, Matthew R. MacEwan, and Michael E. Tang have no conflict of interest or financial ties to disclose.


Supported by research grants from the Washington University Bear Cub grant program, the Washington University Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery, and the Washington University Dean’s Summer Fellowship program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory C. Ebersole
    • 1
  • Evan G. Buettmann
    • 1
  • Matthew R. MacEwan
    • 1
  • Michael E. Tang
    • 1
  • Margaret M. Frisella
    • 1
  • Brent D. Matthews
    • 1
  • Corey R. Deeken
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Section of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Department of SurgeryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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