Date of Award

4-2011

Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering

Department

Biomedical and General Engineering

Advisor

Kristen O'Halloran Cardinal

Abstract

Hundreds of thousands of vascular bypass grafts are implanted in the United States every year, but there has yet to be an ideal graft material to substitute for one’s own autologous vessel. Many synthetic materials have been shown to be successful vessel replacements; however, none have been proven to exhibit the same mechanical properties as native vessels, one of the most important criteria in selecting a vascular graft material. Part of this issue is due to the fact that, currently, there is no “gold standard” for testing the longitudinal and transverse tensile properties of small diameter tubular materials. While there are ASTM and ISO standards that suggest ways to test tubes in their original form, many researchers have published tensile strength data based on cutting the tube and testing it as a flat sample. Thus, it was the aim of this thesis to understand, establish, and implement accurate tensile testing methods of small diameter polymers in their original, tubular state on Cal Poly’s campus.

Two test fixtures were created based on specified design criteria in order to test materials in their tubular form in both the longitudinal and transverse directions. Both fixtures were successful in testing PLGA and ePTFE samples, and statistical data was gathered for the transverse test fixture. The new transverse test fixture was tested against the current method of testing, and a significant (α = 0.05) difference between methods was established for ultimate tensile strength. This analysis, however, cannot determine which test method is more accurate, thus more extensive testing is required to verify the design of both fixtures. By developing a method for testing small diameter polymers in tubular form on Cal Poly’s campus, it allows for more testing of various small diameter tubes and more comparative data to validate each design. It also demonstrates a need for a more detailed and widespread standardization of testing for small diameter tubes, especially in vascular substitute applications where the ideal vessel replacement has yet to be found.