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Biomed Mater. 2007 Mar;2(1):S23-7. doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/2/1/S04. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Medical applications of shape memory polymers.

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  • 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA.


Shape memory polymers (SMP) are lightweight, have a high strain/shape recovery ability, are easy to process, and required properties can be tailored for variety of applications. Recently a number of medical applications have been considered and investigated, especially for polyurethane-based SMP. SMP materials were found to be biocompatible, non-toxic and non-mutagenic. The glass transition temperature (T(g)) can be tailored for shape restoration/self-deployment of clinical devices when inserted in the human body. Newly developed SMP foams, together with cold hibernated elastic memory (CHEM) processing, further broaden their potential biomedical applications. Polyurethane-based SMP are described here and major advantages are identified over other medical materials. Some SMP applications are already used in a clinical setting, whereas others are still in development. Lately, several important applications are being considered for CHEM foams as self-deployable vascular and coronary devices. One example is the endovascular treatment of aneurysms.

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