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The in vivo and in vitro degradation of some suture materials, especially polyglycolic acid sutures, has been studied in an attempt to determine whether cellular enzymes have any influence on the degradation of polymers. The test protocols included a novel method for varying the type of tissue response to a material so that the in-vivo behavior of the material under different conditions could be followed.
It has been found that the hydrolysis of polyglycolic acid takes place by essentially the same mechanism in vivo and in vitro—that is, by hydrolysis in an aqueous environment—but that the initiation of this process is greatly enhanced by the in-vivo environment. The cells of an acute response to implant material appear to favor hydrolysis slightly more than do cells of a chronic response. A similar but more significant difference in tissue environmental effect is noted with the use of polyamide sutures, but the situation is reversed when silk sutures are used; then the chronic inflammatory cells have a greater effect on the suture materials than do the acute inflammatory cells.
implant materials, polyglycolic acid, degradation, sutures, enzymes, hydrolysis, lysosomes, macrophages, neutrophils
Senior lecturer in Medical and Dental Materials, School of Dental Surgery, University of Liverpool, Liverpool,