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Original Article
August 2000

Use of Internal Bioabsorbable PLGA "Finger-Type" Stents in a Rabbit Tracheal Reconstruction Model

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Robey and Weatherly), Biologic and Material Sciences and Chemical Engineering (Dr Mooney), and Pathology (Dr Murphy), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ann Arbor (Dr Murphy); and the Institute of Biomaterials, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland (Mr Välimaa and Dr Tôrmâlâ).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(8):985-991. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.8.985

Objectives  To design and develop a biodegradable tracheal stent that can be used internally to stabilize and support surgically reconstructed airways.

Design  In vitro mechanical and degradative properties of 80:20 poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) "finger-like" stents were determined. The stents were then tested in vivo in rabbits that underwent anterior patch tracheoplasties with fascia lata grafts. Comparisons were made between a control group and an internal stent group for stridor development, overall group mortality, reconstructed airway lumen size, and histological findings.

Subjects  Twenty-five New Zealand white rabbits.

Results  The average dry modulus for the internal stents was 6800 kPa. All of the internal stents cracked by 4 weeks in buffer solution. Significant mass loss was not noted in vitro until after 5 weeks in buffer solution. By 14 weeks, the stents were nearly 100% degraded. The attrition rate for the control group was 23% compared with 17% for the experimental group. The stridor rate for the control group was also higher at 38% compared with 17% for the stented group. The stented rabbits had a significantly smaller average stenosis (23%) across the entire reconstruction site than the control group (34%) (P<.05).

Conclusion  Biodegradable PLGA stents degrade in a predictable fashion and have a statistically significant effect in augmenting anterior patch tracheoplasties with fascia lata grafts in rabbits.