Polyethylene was first introduced in Great Britain in 1936. It is made by a process involving polymerization of ethylene under extremely high pressure and heat. The commercial product is extensively used for electric wire insulation.
In pure form, polyethylene is chemically very inert. It is unaffected by all known solvents at temperatures of 60 C, and its surface is not wetted by water or aqueous solutions. Polyethylene is pearly gray in color, tasteless, and has a very low coefficient of friction. It conducts heat poorly, does not crack or break, and may be cut readily with a knife. Since polyethylene softens at about 110 C, it is readily moldable but cannot be autoclaved.
Meyers,1 in 1945, reported a method of intravenous catheterization with the use of polyethylene tubing and stated there was no foreign-body tissue reaction. Ingraham, Alexander, and Matson,2,3 following a series of animal experiments, stated that
HOUSE HP. Polyethylene in Middle Ear Surgery. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1960;71(6):926–931. doi:10.1001/archotol.1960.03770060038005
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.