New research has found a degradation process in silicone-urethane plastics that could change the way medical device manufacturers design implantable devices.
According to the report in ACS’ journal Macromolecule, some implanted devices, like pacemakers and defibrillators, contain plastic parts with polyurethane and silicone. In an effort to determine whether the plastic would work over a long period of time, researchers tested how these materials interact with water, finding that they begin to break down within three to six years.
“By making the conclusions of this novel, scientific research public in a respected peer-reviewed journal, device manufacturers may now consider these important findings in their device designs, says Kimberly Chaffin, the lead author of the manuscript.
Plastic consisting of polyurethane and silicone are used as coating on electrical wires carrying current from batteries in pacemakers to the heart. More than 600,000 people worldwide get pacemakers each year, according to the ACS website.