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Resorbable polymers are composed of an absorbable unit linked with degradable chains. In polymer degradation, monomers and low molecular weight species are formed by the degradation process and these compounds are absorbed by metabolic pathways (Fig. 3.1). Since the degradation processes are mediated by water or enzymes, they can be distinguished as hydrolytic or enzymatic degradation respectively.

Modern era absorbable sutures are mostly synthetic. And the degradation mechanism is hydrolytic. The main factors that determine the hydrolytic degradation process are the chemical structure of the degradable chain in the polymer backbone; hydrophilic/hydrophobic character; polymer morphology; molecular weight; surface area; catalysts; and additives of resorbable polymers. An example SEM footage is shown below, demonstrating the absorption mechanism in 6 weeks’ time. Since the reaction is hydrolytic, the water content of the environment that suture is in is also a major factor determining the degradation time.

Absorbable sutures
Absorbable sutures

This situation brings out a huge design challenge to commercial absorbable sutures. The packed suture is usually expected to maintain its mechanical characteristics for 5 years. This is a though challenge resulting to take preventions to get rid of moisture content in absorbable suture pouches as much as possible. If the negative effect of temperature is considered on polymer structure, low temperatures is a must for the drying process.

Low-temperature vacuum drying is an innovative technique that has gained significant attention in various industries due to its ability to gently and efficiently remove moisture from products. This process involves subjecting the material to reduced pressure and controlled temperatures, resulting in superior drying outcomes compared to traditional drying methods. Here are some main advantages and features of the method.

Preserving Product Quality:

One of the primary advantages of low-temperature vacuum drying is its ability to preserve the quality of delicate and heat-sensitive materials. Unlike conventional drying methods, which may expose products to high temperatures, vacuum drying operates at lower temperatures, significantly minimizing thermal degradation. This gentle approach helps retain the natural colors, flavors, and aromas of the product, resulting in a finished product that closely resembles the fresh counterpart. This feature makes it a perfect method for drying of resorbable sutures.

Uniform and Efficient Drying:

Low-temperature vacuum drying ensures uniform moisture removal throughout the product, eliminating the risk of over-drying or under-drying. By controlling the pressure and temperature conditions within the vacuum chamber, moisture is effectively removed from the material without causing structural damage or excessive shrinkage. This uniformity enhances the overall product quality and reduces the drying time, making it a highly efficient process for large-scale production.

Wide Range of Applications:

The low-temperature vacuum drying technique finds applications in diverse industries, including food processing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and materials science. In the food industry, it is particularly beneficial for drying fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, as it helps preserve their nutritional content and organoleptic properties. In the pharmaceutical sector, low-temperature vacuum drying ensures the stability and potency of sensitive medications. It is also employed in the production of powdered products, such as instant coffee, where maintaining the original aroma and flavor is crucial.

Energy Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness:

Compared to traditional drying methods, low-temperature vacuum drying offers improved energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The lower drying temperatures result in reduced energy consumption, contributing to lower operational costs. Additionally, the controlled vacuum environment accelerates the drying process, allowing for faster production cycles and increased productivity. These advantages make low-temperature vacuum drying an attractive option for manufacturers seeking environmentally friendly and economically viable drying solutions.

Low-temperature vacuum drying technology can also be applied to the production of absorbable sutures in the medical industry. Absorbable sutures are surgical threads that are designed to degrade and be absorbed by the body over time, eliminating the need for suture removal. The low-temperature vacuum drying process offers several advantages when it comes to manufacturing these sutures.

Preservation of Material Integrity:

Absorbable sutures are typically made from biodegradable materials such as polyglycolic acid (PGA), polylactic acid (PLA), or copolymers of these materials. These materials are often sensitive to heat and moisture, which can lead to degradation or alteration of their properties. Low-temperature vacuum drying allows for gentle removal of moisture from the sutures, minimizing the risk of material degradation. This ensures that the sutures retain their structural integrity and mechanical properties, enhancing their performance and reliability during surgical procedures.

Controlled Moisture Removal:

During the manufacturing process of absorbable sutures, it is crucial to remove moisture from the threads to prevent premature degradation. Low-temperature vacuum drying provides precise control over the moisture removal process. By adjusting the temperature and pressure within the vacuum chamber, moisture is effectively eliminated without subjecting the sutures to excessive heat. This controlled moisture removal ensures the optimal moisture content for the sutures, allowing them to maintain their strength and flexibility.

Uniform Drying:

Uniform drying is essential for producing high-quality absorbable sutures. Inconsistent drying can lead to variations in the material properties, resulting in sutures with different performance characteristics. Low-temperature vacuum drying facilitates uniform moisture removal throughout the sutures, ensuring consistent quality and performance. The controlled drying conditions within the vacuum chamber prevent localized drying or moisture retention, resulting in sutures that have consistent strength, flexibility, and degradation rates.

Preservation of Biocompatibility:

Biocompatibility is a critical factor when it comes to medical devices, including absorbable sutures. The low-temperature vacuum drying process helps preserve the biocompatibility of the sutures' materials. By avoiding high-temperature exposure, the potential for chemical changes or the formation of toxic byproducts is minimized. This ensures that the sutures remain safe for use in the body and reduces the risk of adverse reactions or complications.

Overall, the application of low-temperature vacuum drying technology to the manufacturing of absorbable sutures offers several benefits. It enables the preservation of material integrity, controlled moisture removal, uniform drying, and the preservation of biocompatibility. These advantages contribute to the production of high-quality absorbable sutures that are reliable, safe, and perform optimally during surgical procedures.

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