In any collaborative endeavor, when fields like medicine and bioengineering overlap, the proper use of technical vocabulary takes on added importance. It is important that scientists and clinicians, while coming from different backgrounds and educational systems, agree upon and utilize a common language based on mutually understood concepts and definitions. Regarding biomaterial testing applications, numerous terms are used to describe a wide variety of material behaviors when test specimens are subjected to mechanical, chemical, electrical and thermal stressors. In this discussion we will limit ourselves to the mechanical properties of materials which are utilized for soft tissue or fascial-based repairs. Following a literature search combining the keywords surgical mesh and biomaterials testing, common terms used to describe the mechanical properties of mesh were selected. Our analysis seeks to define the following terms and describe their applicability within the context of biomaterials for hernia repair: elasticity, stiffness, flexibility, tensile strength, distension, deformation, bending stiffness, and compliance. Unfortunately, in the technical literature, terms are often altered or extrapolated without adequate explanation. In other cases, related but technically different terms are mistakenly used interchangeably. With the mounting interest in biomaterials for the use in repair of abdominal wall defects, there is a need to standardize the terminology used to describe the biomechanical properties of mesh.
KeywordsBiomaterials Surgical mesh Mechanical testing Terminology Hernia
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