The rate of in vivo degradation was determined for a naturally occurring biomaterial derived from the extracellular matrix of the small intestinal submucosa (SIS). The SIS was labeled by giving weekly intravenous injections of 10 microCi of 14C-proline to piglets from 3 weeks of age until the time of sacrifice at 26 weeks. The resultant SIS prepared from these pigs contained approximately 10(3) fold more 14C than unlabeled tissues. The labeled SIS was used to repair experimental defects in the urinary bladder of 10 dogs. The animals were sacrificed at post-operative times ranging from 3 days to 1 year and the remodeled urinary bladder tissue was harvested for evaluation of 14C by a combination of liquid scintillation counting and accelerator mass spectrometry. The remodeled tissue contained less than 10% of the 14C (disintegrations per minute/gram tissue wet weight) at 3 months post-surgery compared to the SIS biomaterial that was originally implanted. The SIS scaffold was replaced by host tissue that resembled normal bladder both in structure and function. After implantation, 14C was detected in highest concentrations in the blood and the urine. The SIS bioscaffold provides a temporary scaffold for tissue remodeling with rapid host tissue remodeling, degradation, and elimination via the urine when used as a urinary bladder repair device.