3D printed estradiol-eluting urogynecological mesh Implants: Influence of material and mesh geometry on their mechanical properties

Zara-Louise Farmer, Emilia Utomo, Juan Dominguez Robles, Caterina Mancinelli, Essyrose Mathew, Eneko Larrañeta, Dimitrios A. Lamprou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
262 Downloads (Pure)


Current treatment for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) involves transvaginal implantation of surgical mesh, conventionally made of polypropylene (PP). However, it has recently become apparent that the mechanical properties of PP are unsuitable, resulting in serious complications such as tissue erosion. In this study, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) was chosen as an alternative material, and hormone-loaded meshes were produced by fused deposition modelling (FDM). Filaments containing various concentrations (0%, 0.25%, 1%) of 17-β-estradiol (E2) were prepared by hot-melt extrusion (HME) and were 3D printed into meshes with various geometries. The resulting meshes were characterised through a variety of instruments such as attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermal analysis, fracture force and in vitro release studies. The results showed that E2 was homogeneously distributed throughout the TPU matrix. Moreover, the thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) showed degradation temperatures above those used during the FDM process, showing that the meshes can be produced below the degradation temperatures of the materials. The fracture force testing showed that material and mesh geometry influence mechanical properties, with TPU meshes appearing more elastic and therefore more suitable for pelvic floor repair than PP mesh. However, interestingly the mechanical properties of the TPU70 filament was not affected by the inclusion of E2. In addition, the 3D printed meshes showed a linear E2 release profile over a two weeks period, which can be modified according to the percentage of E2 added to the 3D printed construct. This proof of concept study demonstrates the potential of using FDM to create a new generation of safer mesh implants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120145
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021


  • 3D Printing
  • hot melt extrusion
  • Drug Delivery
  • Estradiol
  • Mesh implants


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