Biomedical Engineer Evaluates Metallic Mesh Failure Following Use in Surgery

This case involves a female patient who went in for minor sternum surgery.  As the surgery came to a close, there ended up being a much larger void than originally expected. A colleague of the attending surgeon recommended using neuro mesh (developed for use in cranioplasty procedures) to close the void. The mesh worked well for the procedure but subsequently fractured. The patient required additional surgeries to resolve the issue. A biomedical engineering expert was sought to opine on the structural integrity of neuro mesh when placed in a more mobile part of the body.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Have you worked with neuro mesh like the one described?
  • 2. How does a neuro mesh like the one described perform on more mobile parts of the body?

Expert Witness Response E-073602

I have my B.S. in biomedical engineering and my Ph.D. in material science and engineering. My doctoral research involved modeling traumatic brain injury in cultured rat neurons. I designed and developed a device for delivering the appropriate mechanical forces necessary to simulate traumatic brain injury in a dish. Subsequently, I am well-versed in traumatic brain injury from a biomechanical point of view and the body of literature that accompanies this field (i.e. forces experienced during a traumatic event, head movements and speeds related to traumatic events, and outcomes of such events). Currently, I serve as a biomechanics professor at a where I teach students mechanical principals and their relationship with anatomy and how to analyze these forces. It would be fundamental to apply these skills to an analysis of the neuro mesh. Depending on the specific material properties of the mesh I would first predict modes of failure in this product’s design and also the strength of the material used. I would use this analysis along with an analysis of the range of motion and forces generated in the region that the implant resided. I believe that given an inflexible enough material it is likely that the neuro mesh would be subject to failure if implanted in a very mobile part of the body.

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