In vitro flexural properties of hydroxyapatite and self-reinforced poly(L-lactic acid)

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Poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) has been used for fracture fixation devices, but its use is limited because of its poor biocompatibility and mechanical properties. The effects of extrusion, incorporation of hydroxyapatite (HA) and self-reinforced composites (SRCs) on the resultant mechanical properties of PLLA were examined. Samples were conditioned for up to 52 weeks in PBS at 37°C. Extrusion did not adversely affect the mechanical properties of PLLA. After in vitro conditioning, a slight but significant reduction in the strain to failure and modulus was seen. HA (10-40%) by weight was evenly distributed into PLLA using an intermeshing twin-screw extruder. As ceramic content increased, the initial modulus increased but flexural strength decreased. After immersion, the modulus of all HA-PLLA blends was lower than PLLA. HA particles did not form a strong bond with the PLLA, which promoted easier degradation of the HA-PLLA matrix. SRCs showed a higher modulus and strength when compared to all materials except the modulus of 30 and 40% HA-PLLA composites before immersion. Water preferentially attacked the matrix of the composite, leading to more fiber pullout, but the fiber orientation maintained the advantages in strength and modulus up to 24 weeks in vitro. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A