Degradation of poly-L-lactide. Part2 : increased temperature accelerated degradation

N.A. Weir, Fraser Buchanan, John Orr, G.R. Dickson, D.F. Farrar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Poly-L-lactide (PLLA) is one of the most significant members of a group of polymers regarded as bioresorbable. The degradation of PLLA proceeds through hydrolysis of the ester linkages in the polymer's backbone; however, the time for the complete resorption of orthopaedic devices manufactured from PLLA is known to be in excess of five years in a normal physiological environment. To evaluate the degradation of PLLA in an accelerated time period, PLLA pellets were processed by compression moulding into tensile test specimens, prior to being sterilized by ethylene oxide gas (EtO) and degraded in a phosphate-buffered solution (PBS) at both 50°C and 70°C. On retrieval, at predetermined time intervals, procedures were used to evaluate the material's molecular weight, crystallinity, mechanical strength, and thermal properties. The results from this study suggest that at both 50°C and 70°C, degradation proceeds by a very similar mechanism to that observed at 37°C in vitro and in vivo. The degradation models developed also confirmed the dependence of mass loss, melting temperature, and glass transition temperature (Tg) on the polymer's molecular weight throughout degradation. Although increased temperature appears to be a suitable method for accelerating the degradation of PLLA, relative to its physiological degradation rate, concerns still remain over the validity of testing above the polymer's Tg and the significance of autocatalysis at increased temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-330
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Volume218 (5)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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