A Shape Memory Polymer for Intracranial Aneurysms: An Investigation of Mechanical and Radiographic Properties of a Tantalum-Filled Shape Memory Polymer Composite
Heaton, Brian Craig
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An intracranial aneurysm can be a serious, life-threatening condition which may go undetected until the aneurysm ruptures causing hemorrhaging within the brain. The typical treatment method for large aneurysms is by embolization using platinum coils. However, in about 15% of the cases treated by platinum coils, the aneurysm eventually re-opens. The solution to the problem of aneurysm recurrence may be to develop more bio-active materials, including certain polymers, to use as coil implants. In this research, a shape memory polymer (SMP) was investigated as a potential candidate for aneurysm coils. The benefit of a shape memory polymer is that a small diameter fiber can be fed through a micro-catheter and then change its shape into a three-dimensional configuration when heated to body temperature. The SMP was tested to determine its thermo-mechanical properties and the strength of the shape recovery force. In addition, composite specimens containing tantalum filler were produced and tested to determine the mechanical effect of adding this radio-opaque metal. Thermo-mechanical testing showed that the material exhibited a shape recovery force a few degrees above Tg. The effects of the metal filler were small and included depression of Tg and recovery force. SMP coils deployed inside a simulated aneurysm model demonstrated that typical hemodynamic forces would not hinder the shape recovery process. The x-ray absorption capability the tantalum-filled material was characterized using x-ray diffractometry and clinical fluoroscopy. Diffractometry revealed that x-ray absorption increased with tantalum concentration, however, not as the rule of mixtures would predict. Fluoroscopic imaging of the composite coils in a clinical setting verified the radio-opacity of the material.
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