The modification of PLA and PLGA using electron-beam radiation

Dermot J. Leonard, Louise T. Pick, David F. Farrar, Glenn R. Dickson, John F. Orr, Fraser J. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The degradable polymers polylactide (PLA) and polylactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) have found widespread use in modern medical practice. However, their slow degradation rates and tendency to lose strength before mass have caused problems. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether treatment with e-beam radiation could address these problems. Samples of PLA and PLGA were manufactured and placed in layered stacks, 8.1 mm deep, before exposure to 50 kGy of e-beam radiation from a 1.5 MeV accelerator. Gel permeation chromatography testing showed that the molecular weight of both materials was depth-dependent following irradiation, with samples nearest to the treated surface showing a reduced molecular weight. Samples deeper than 5.4 mm were unaffected. Computer modeling of the transmission of a 1.5 MeV e-beam in these materials corresponded well with these findings. An accelerated mass-loss study of the treated materials found that the samples nearest the irradiated surface initiated mass loss earlier, and at later stages showed an increased percentage mass loss. It was concluded that e-beam radiation could modify the degradation of bioabsorbable polymers to potentially improve their performance in medical devices, specifically for improved orthopedic fixation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-574
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Metals and Alloys


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