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An evaluation of the thermal and mechanical properties of a salt-modified polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel for a knee meniscus application.

Curley, Colin; Hayes, Jennifer C; Rowan, Neil J; Kennedy, James E.
J Mech Behav Biomed Mater; 40: 13-22, 2014 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25190433
The treatment of irreparable knee meniscus tears remains a major challenge for the orthopaedic community. The main purpose of this research was to analyse the mechanical properties and thermal behaviour of a salt-modified polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel, in order to assess its potential for use as an artificial meniscal implant. Aqueous poly vinyl alcohol was treated with a sodium sulphate solution to precipitate out the polyvinyl alcohol resulting in a pliable hydrogel. The freeze-thaw process, a strictly physical method of crosslinking, was employed to crosslink the hydrogel. Physical crosslinks in the form of crystalline regions were induced within the hydrogel structure which resulted in a large increase in mechanical resistance. Results showed that the optimal sodium sulphate addition of 6.6% (w/v) Na2SO4 in 8.33% (w/v) PVA causes the PVA to precipitate out of its solution. The effect of multiple freeze thaw cycles was also investigated. Investigation comprised of a variety of well-established characterisation techniques such as differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), mechanical analysis, rheometry and swelling studies. DSC analysis showed that samples cross-linked using the freeze thaw process display a thermal shift due to increased crosslink density. FTIR analysis confirmed crystallisation is present at 1142cm(-1) and also showed that no chemical alteration occurs when PVA is treated with sodium sulphate. Swelling studies indicated that that PVA/sodium sulphate hydrogels absorb less water than untreated hydrogels due to increased amounts of PVA present. Compressive strength analysis of PVA/sodium sulphate hydrogels prepared at -80°C displayed average maximum loads of 2472N, 2482.4N and 2476N of over 1, 3 and 5 freeze thaw cycles respectively. Mechanical analysis of the hydrogel indicated that the material is thermally stable and resistant to breakdown by compressive force. These properties are crucial for potential use as a meniscus or cartilage replacement. As such, the results of this study indicate that polyvinyl alcohol modified with sodium sulphate may be a suitable material for the construction of an artificial knee meniscus.