Antimicrobial Polymer Composites for Medical Applications

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: The current study and discuss the long-term properties of biomedical polymers in vitro and invivo and presents means to design and manufacture antimicrobial composites. Antimicrobialcomposites with reduced tendency for biofilm formation should lead to lower risk for medicaldevice associated infection.The first part analyse in vivo degradation of invasive silicone rubber tracheostomy tubes andpresents degradation mechanism, degradation products and the estimated lifetime of thematerials.. It was found that silicone tubes undergo hydrolysis during the long-term exposurein vivo, which in turn results in decreased stability of the polymer due to surface alterationsand the formation of low molecular weight compounds.The second part of the study presents the manufacturing of composites with single, binary andternary ion-exchanged zeolites as an antimicrobial agent. The ion distribution and release ofthe zeolites and the antimicrobial efficiency of the different systems showed that single silverion-exchanged zeolite was superior to the other samples. Antimicrobial composites wereprepared by mixing the above-mentioned zeolites and pure zeolite (without any ion) withdifferent fractions into polyether (TPU), polyether (PEU) polyurethane and silicone rubber.The antimicrobial efficiency of binary and ternary ion-exchanged samples was similar whichis thought to be due to the ion distribution in the crystal structure.The changes in the mechanical and surface properties of the composites due to the zeolitecontent demonstrated that the increasing zeolite content reduced the mechanical propertieswhile the surface properties did not change significantly. The antimicrobial tests showed thatthe silver-containing composite was the most efficient among all the other samples. Thebinary and ternary ion-exchanged composites expressed similar antimicrobial efficiency as itwas seen previously for the different zeolite systems. Biocompatibility was studied byexposure to artificial body fluids to simulate the degradation of the composites in the humanbody. Significant changes were observed in the morphology, the surface properties and the chemical structure.