Fiber Reinforced Hydrogels as a Synthetic Meniscus Replacement
Julianne L. Holloway, Giuseppe R. Palmese, and Anthony M. Lowman. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Injuries of the meniscus occur frequently and often lead to degeneration in the knee. Currently no adequate procedure or technology is available for injuries that occur in the avascular section of the meniscus. A majority of the current issues would be absolved by creating a synthetic polymer capable of being molded to the size and shape of the meniscus and tailored to match properties. In this study, fiber-reinforced hydrogels were synthesized and analyzed in order to compare the tensile and compressive modulus of the composites to the native meniscus. Results indicate that the compression modulus is on the same order of magnitude as the meniscus and can be tailored fairly easily. Furthermore, the tensile modulus of the composite is greatly increased as fiber volume fraction increases. ESEM micrographs show poor surface adhesion between the fiber and the hydrogel, which may be the cause for the poor tensile modulus observed in these composites. Ultimately, an adequate synthetic meniscus would have to have multiple fibers of varying strengths oriented in different directions in order to obtain the anisotropic properties present within the meniscus.