Development of a polyvinyl alcohol cryogel covered stent
Weaver, Jason David
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Atherosclerosis is the number one cause of death in the United States and one of the most common treatments is the implantation of a stent. In order to eliminate the two most common complications - restenosis and thrombosis - a novel covered stent is investigated. A covered stent membrane should be able to undergo large stretch, prevent restenosis, and be relatively non-thrombogenic. Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) cryogels are examined as a candidate material for covered stent membranes. Mechanical testing included uniaxial tensile testing, puncture testing, and the fabrication and expansion of PVA cryogel covered stents. Uniaxial testing showed PVA cryogels to have sufficient ultimate stretch which was similar to bare metal stents during deployment. Puncture testing revealed that PVA cryogels are not likely to puncture in vivo. No tears were seen in the PVA cryogel membrane after expansion of the covered stents. Finite element analysis was used to determine a PVA cryogel membrane's effect on artery wall stress. PVA cryogel covered stents reduced both artery wall stress and tissue prolapse when compared to equivalent uncovered stents. Migration assays were used to determine if PVA cryogels are able to block the smooth muscle cell migration seen during restenosis. PVA cryogels significantly reduced cellular migration in modified Boyden chambers - suggesting that they would be able to prevent restenosis in vivo. Thrombogenicity was tested in vitro with a gravity-fed flow loop using porcine blood and in vivo with a sheep model. PVA cryogels were found to be less thrombogenic than polyester controls with the flow loop system. The sheep study demonstrated the feasibility of implanting PVA cryogel covered stents and good early patency. After explantation, the PVA cryogel membranes were intact - providing in vivo evidence for the durability of PVA cryogel covered stents. Overall, this work provides evidence that covered stents made with PVA cryogels are a feasible device in terms of their mechanics, ability to prevent restenosis, and low thrombogenicity. This work represents a major advancement in the development of PVA cryogel covered stents and provides necessary safety and feasibility data for future clinical trials.