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In vitro degradation, flexural, compressive and shear properties of fully bioresorbable composite rods

Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2011.05.016
  • Composite Rods
  • Phosphate Glass Fibres
  • Polylactic Acid
  • Flexural
  • Compressive And Shear Stress Properties


Abstract Several studies have investigated self-reinforced polylactic acid (SR-PLA) and polyglycolic acid (SR-PGA) rods which could be used as intramedullary (IM) fixation devices to align and stabilise bone fractures. This study investigated totally bioresorbable composite rods manufactured via compression moulding at ∼100 °C using phosphate glass fibres (of composition 50P 2O 5–40CaO–5Na 2O–5Fe 2O 3 in mol%) to reinforce PLA with an approximate fibre volume fraction ( v f ) of 30%. Different fibre architectures (random and unidirectional) were investigated and pure PLA rods were used as control samples. The degradation profiles and retention of mechanical properties were investigated and PBS was selected as the degradation medium. Unidirectional (P50 UD) composite rods had 50% higher initial flexural strength as compared to PLA and 60% higher in comparison to the random mat (P50 RM) composite rods. Similar initial profiles for flexural modulus were also seen comparing the P50 UD and P50 RM rods. Higher shear strength properties were seen for P50 UD in comparison to P50 RM and PLA rods. However, shear stiffness values decreased rapidly (after a week) whereas the PLA remained approximately constant. For the compressive strength studies, P50 RM and PLA rods remained approximately constant, whilst for the P50 UD rods a significantly higher initial value was obtained, which decreased rapidly after 3 days immersion in PBS. However, the mechanical properties decreased after immersion in PBS as a result of the plasticisation effect of water within the composite and degradation of the fibres. The fibres within the random and unidirectional composite rods (P50 RM and P50 UD) degraded leaving behind microtubes as seen from the SEM micrographs (after 28 days degradation) which in turn created a porous structure within the rods. This was the main reason attributed for the increase seen in mass loss and water uptake for the composite rods (∼17% and ∼16%, respectively).

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