by Shane Woods, Senior Study Director
As surgical procedures advance and treatments become more sophisticated, the need to understand how they affect the body matures. That’s where biomechanical testing can provide keen insights.
Biomechanics combines engineering with biology to help us better understand the complexities of life. Evaluating bone, cartilage, muscle, tendon and other tissues—how they respond to a new type of procedure, drug or device—is the task of biomechanical testing. By understanding that interaction, researchers can devise new ways to enhance structural characteristics or make changes to materials to improve outcomes for patients. This drives innovation and improves patient safety.
An example involves regenerative scaffolds for treating volumetric muscle loss—that is, surgical or traumatic loss of skeletal muscles, which result in functional impairment of a limb. Using an animal model, a researcher humanely creates a wound, treats it with a new product or procedure, and then measures how the body heals and responds. Biomechanical testing allows us to compare different treatments, recovery times, what happens at different stages of healing and how effective the treatment is. We can scale this process for a small pilot study to a large preclinical trial.
Another example of biomechanical testing is fracture fixation. Using both biomechanical testing processes and imaging through micro-computed tomography, we can determine key measures such as strength, stress, strain, elasticity, average mean density and bone volume. This data helps determine the effectiveness of differing fixation devices, including new ones, existing ones, and comparisons between them.
At MPI Research, we depend on two reliable systems for biomechanical testing: the Instron 5500A, a dual-column, table-top system used for compression or extension of a sample (and yielding mathematical data on time/load/distance to determine stress, strain, failure and other data); and the Instron 55MT1 micro-torsion testing system, used to twist samples and it’s useful for understanding long bone fractures.
The insights gleaned through this testing, which we’re able to do from single samples, give great clarity on how well a procedure or treatment works. The testing systems and processes we use include three validated methods covering material indentation and force, material thickness, and material compression. Other capabilities cover push-out/pull-out testing (for implant/screw interfaces), three- and four-point bend (for materials and long bones), ball burst and lap shear (for mesh integration/fixation), and a variety of compression, torsion, tensile testing methods used to evaluate bone, spine, tendon, muscle, and skin.
Biomechanical testing is one element in the overall evaluation of a product, treatment or procedure—along with cellular insights from histology and immunohistochemistry, microscopic views through micro-CT and radiographs, and macroscopic data gathered through necropsy. Our biomechanical testing capabilities are cost-effective and yield rich data that allow Sponsors to make scientifically sound decisions. That means the treatments that reach patients are thoroughly tested and deliver the greatest outcomes.
Shane Woods, MS, MBA, is a Senior Study Director at MPI Research. To learn more about our biomechanical testing expertise, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.