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Reconstructive materials used in surgery: Classification and host response

Emanuel C Trabuco, MD, MS
John B Gebhart, MD, MS
Section Editors
Linda Brubaker, MD, FACS, FACOG
Hilary Sanfey, MD
Charles E Butler, MD, FACS
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS


This topic review will discuss the classification and histologic behavior of reconstructive materials used in surgery. Prosthetic materials in the surgical management of specific conditions are discussed in individual topic reviews.


Hernia repair — The use of prosthetic material dramatically reduces the incidence of recurrence associated with ventral, inguinal, and femoral hernia repair. Polypropylene is the most common material used. (See "Overview of treatment for inguinal and femoral hernia in adults" and "Overview of abdominal wall hernias in adults".)

Pelvic organ prolapse — Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and urinary incontinence are common, comorbid disorders in women, and can greatly impact quality of life [1]. (See "Pelvic organ prolapse in women: An overview of the epidemiology, risk factors, clinical manifestations, and management".)


The four kinds of surgical reconstructive materials differ by source: synthetic mesh, autografts, allografts, and xenografts. Advantages and disadvantages of the different material types are found in the table (table 1).

Synthetic materials — Synthetic materials are available as both absorbable (eg, polygalactin 910 [Vicryl], polyglycolic acid [Dexon]) and nonabsorbable mesh (eg, polypropylene [Marlex, Prolene], and expanded polytetrafluoroethylene [ePTFE, Gore-tex]). Compared with biologic grafts, advantages of synthetic materials include greater availability (does not require harvesting) and lower cost of material. However, infectious and erosion complications, especially with transvaginal surgery, have prompted a search for alternative materials [2] (see 'Host response' below).


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Feb 18, 2016.
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