Effect of soft-segment chemistry on polyurethane biostability during in vitro fatigue loading

Michael J. Wiggins, Matt MacEwan, James M. Anderson, Anne Hiltner

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The effect of soft-segment chemistry on biostability of polyurethane elastomers was studied with a diaphragm-type film specimen under conditions of static and dynamic loading. During testing, the films were exposed to an H 2O2/ CoCl2 solution, which simulated the oxidative component of the in vivo environment. Films treated for up to 24 days were evaluated by IR spectroscopy and by optical and scanning electron microscopy. Biostability of a poly(ether urethane) (PEU), which is known to undergo oxidative degradation, was compared with biostability of a poly(carbonate urethane) (PCU), which is thought to be more resistant to oxidation than PEU. Materials similar to PEU and PCU, in which the polyether or polycarbonate soft segment was partially replaced with poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), were also tested with the expectation that PDMS would improve soft-segment biostability. Oxidative degradation of the polyether soft segment of PEU was manifest chemically as chain scission and cross-linking and physically as surface pitting. Biaxial fatigue accelerated chemical degradation of PEU and eventually caused brittle stress cracking. In comparison, the polycarbonate soft segment was more stable to oxidation; there was minimal chemical or physical degradation of PCU, even in biaxial fatigue. Partial substitution of the polyether soft segment with PDMS enhanced oxidative stability of PEU. Although both strategies for modifying soft-segment chemistry improved the resistance to oxidative degradation, the outstanding mechanical properties of PEU were compromised to some extent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-683
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2004


  • Biodegradation
  • Biostability
  • Creep
  • Fatigue
  • Polyurethane


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