eXPRESS Polymer Letters (May 2015)

Properties and medical applications of polylactic acid: A review

  • K. Hamad,
  • M. Kaseem,
  • H. W. Yang,
  • F. Deri,
  • Y. G. Ko

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 5
pp. 435 – 455


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Polylactic acid (PLA), one of the well-known biodegradable polyesters, has been studied extensively for tissue engineering and drug delivery systems, and it was also used widely in human medicine. A new method to synthesize PLA (ring-opening polymerization), which allowed the economical production of a high molecular weight PLA polymer, broadened its applications, and this processing would be a potential substitute for petroleum-based products. This review described the principles of the polymerization reactions of PLA and, then, outlined the various materials properties affecting the performance of PLA polymer, such as rheological, mechanical, thermal, and barrier properties as well as the processing technologies which were used to fabricate products based on PLA. In addition, the biodegradation processes of products which were shaped from PLA were discussed and reviewed. The potential applications of PLA in the medical fields, such as tissue engineering, wound management, drugs delivery, and orthopedic devices, were also highlighted.


polylactic acid properties