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A successful implant must meet two important criteria: (1) the ability to function in a living organism and (2) biocompatibility. If an implant has a tendency to degrade, both of these characteristics can be altered, leading to a failure of the implant and possible harm to the patient. This paper will deal with a brief discussion of the subject of toxicology, followed by selected examples of problems which have occurred in the use of a plastic for a biomedical application, and, finally. suggestions will be made as to in-vivo and in-vitro tests which may be appropriate for ascertaining whether a new plastic will degrade, releasing biologically active constituents.
implant materials, toxicology, toxicological testing, biomaterials, cancer studies, biodegradation, plastics, polymers
Director, Materials Science Toxicology Laboratories, University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, Memphis, Tenn