Constitutive Framework for Biodegradable Polymers with Applications to Biodegradable Stents

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Abstract

Biodegradable polymeric stents must provide mechanical support of the stenotic artery wall up to several months while being subjected to cyclic loading that affects the degradation process. To understand the applicability and efficacy of biodegradable polymers, a two-pronged approach involving experiments and theory is necessary. This article addresses the second aspect, the development of a theoretical framework within which the behavior of such materials can be studied. We present a constitutive model for polymers that undergo deformation induced-degradation. For our purpose, degradation is the scission of chemical bonds of the backbone chain, results in molecular weight reduction, and consequently in the commonly observed softening. A model of a solid capable of degradation, which in its absence responds like an elastic solid, is developed. We assume the existence of a scalar field that reflects the local state of degradation and changes the properties of the material. A rate equation for the measure of degradation that depends on strain is coupled with the balance of linear momentum. Uniaxial extension of a body, which in the absence of degradation behaves as a neo-Hookean elastic solid, exhibits stress relaxation, creep, and hysteresis, due to degradation.

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