Background: Hernia repair is one of the most frequently performed operations. In search of the ideal mesh for hernia repair, animal research is required. Although rats are most often used in experimental mesh experiments, no correlation with clinical findings in humans has ever been shown. Therefore, the aim of our study was to investigate whether adhesion formation and foreign body reactions to meshes in rats are comparable with the reactions in humans.
Materials and methods: A fixed type of mesh was implanted intraperitoneally in a group of 10 rats and 10 patients undergoing elective, temporary stoma formation. In case of the latter, meshes were placed around the stoma. After a follow-up period of 12 wk in rats and after a median follow-up of 6 mo in humans, samples of the mesh were collected. Adhesion assessments were performed, and (immuno-) histochemical evaluation was performed by a specialized experimental pathologist and an experienced clinical pathologist.
Results: After the follow-up period, adhesion formation did not differ significantly between rats and humans. Moreover, general inflammation scores were comparable, although granulocytes and giant cells were more present in rats, compared with humans. On the other hand, the presence of fibrosis was more evident in humans compared with rats.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study, which showed that a specific animal model, namely a rat model, correlates with adhesion formation and the foreign body reaction to meshes in humans. It can be recommended to use rats in future experimental mesh for incisional hernia research.