Scanning electron microscopic study of the hydrolytic degradation of poly(glycolic acid) suture

Journal of Biomedical Materials Research
C C Chu, N D Campbell


This article reports the morphological observations on the surface changes of poly-(glycolic acid) sutures which have been exposed to various dosages of gamma irradiation (0, 2.5, 5.0, 10, 20 and 40 Mrad) and duration of immersion (0, 7, 14, 28, 48, 60, and 90 days) in a physiological saline buffer. The most important gross morphological characteristics of PGA suture hydrolytic degradation is the formation of surface cracks on the filaments. The regularity of the surface cracks increased with an increase in the gamma irradiation and the duration of hydrolysis. Surface cracks were not observed in irradiated sutures that had not been subjected to hydrolytic degradation. The arrangement of the surface cracks, their orientation on the filaments, and the direction of crack propagation provide very useful information for depicting the mechanism of hydrolytic degradation in this class of fibrous material. The microfibrillar model of fiber structure has been used as the basis for the proposed degradation mechanism of PGA in vitro. It is believed that hydrolysis occurs initially in the amorphous regions sandwiched between two crystalline zones, as tie-chain segments, free chain ends, and chain folds in these regions degrade into fragmen...Continue Reading


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