The aim of this study was to optimize the properties of a lubricious bioerodible hydrogel barrier for the prevention of postoperative adhesions. Water-soluble macromers based on block copolymers of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and poly(lactic acid) or poly(glycolic acid) with terminal acrylate groups were used, and these macromers were gelled in vivo by exposure to long wavelength ultraviolet light. The precursor was photopolymerized from buffered saline solution while in contact with the tissues. This resulted in the conformal coating of the tissue with an adherent hydrogel film, while forming a nonadhesive barrier at the free surface, on the treated wound site. The hydrogels were evaluated in two animal models of postsurgical adhesions, first in a rat cecum abrasion model and then in a rabbit uterine horn ischemia model. In the rat cecum model, six of seven animals treated with a hydrogel, with glycolide in the precursor as the comonomer, showed no adhesions; untreated animals and animals treated with precursor, but not gelled with light, showed consistent dense adhesions. In the rabbit uterine horn ischemia model, using hydrogels with lactide in the precursor as the comonomer, and PEG of molecular weight from 6,000 to 18,500 Da, adhesions were dramatically reduced, with occurrence in none of seven animals treated with a gel containing PEG 10,000. By contrast, the seven animals in the control group demonstrated a mean of 35% involvement of the horn length in dense, fibrous adhesions. These materials, photopolymerized in vivo in direct contact with the tissues, appear to form an adherent hydrogel barrier that is highly effective in reducing postoperative adhesions in the models used. An optimum exists in the molecular weight of the PEG and in the composition of the degradable link for most effective performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering