Resorbable continuous-fibre reinforced polymers for osteosynthesis

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Four institutes from three countries in the European Union have collaborated under the BRITE-EURAM framework programme for the development of processing technologies for resorbable osteosynthesis devices. The devices should be continuous-fibre reinforced, and the technology should offer the possibility of orienting the fibres in the main trajectories. Poly-L-lactide and poly-L-DL-lactides have been synthesized for reinforcement fibres and matrix material, respectively. Melt-spun P-L-LA fibres of a strength of 800 MPa have been embedded in an amorphous P-L-DL-LA 70: 30 matrix by compression moulding. Ethyleneoxide sterilized samples have been tested in vitro and in vivo. A satisfying bending modulus has been reached (6 GPa). Yet with 50% strength retention after ten weeks, fast degradation occurred that could be related to residual monomers. By this fast degradation 70% resorption after one year could be observed in the non-functional animal studies in rabbits. There was only a mild inflammatory reaction, which confirmed the good biocompatibility of the materials even during the resorption period. Further effort has to concentrate on the reduction of initial monomer content. The great advantage of the processing method to orient fibres in the device will be utilized in prototype samples, e.g. an osteosynthesis plate with fixation holes.

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