Experimental and computational studies of poly-L-lactic acid for cardiovascular applications: recent progress

Stents are commonly used in medical procedures to alleviate the symptoms of coronary heart disease, a prevalent modern society disease. These structures are employed to maintain vessel patency and restore blood flow. Traditionally stents are made of metals such as stainless steel or cobalt chromium; however, these scaffolds have known disadvantages. An emergence of transient scaffolds is gaining popularity, with the structure engaged for a required period whilst healing of the diseased arterial wall occurs. Polymers dominate a medical device sector, with incorporation in sutures, scaffolds and screws. Thanks to their good mechanical and biological properties and their ability to degrade naturally. Polylactic acid is an extremely versatile polymer, with its properties easily tailored to applications. Its dominance in the stenting field increases continually, with the first polymer scaffold gaining FDA approval in 2016. Still some challenges with PLLA bioresorbable materials remain, especially with regard to understanding their mechanical response, assessment of its changes with degradation and comparison of their performance with that of metallic drug-eluting stent. Currently, there is still a lack of works on evaluating both the pre-degradation properties and degradation performance of these scaffolds. Additionally, there are no established material models incorporating non-linear viscoelastic behaviour of PLLA and its evolution with in-service degradation. Assessing these features through experimental analysis accompanied by analytical and numerical studies will provide powerful tools for design and optimisation of these structures endorsing their broader use in stenting. This overview assesses the recent studies investigating mechanical and computational performance of poly(l-lactic) acid and its use in stenting applications.