Objectives: to describe the physical properties of shape-memory alloys and the surgical, scientific and commercial applications of nitinol, in particular.
Design and methods: a Medline, Internet and library search with contributions from commerce to describe the alloy's structure, behaviour and biocompatibility, and design for devices constructed from nitinol.
Results: nitinol has the properties of thermal shape memory and superelasticity that make it ideal for many vascular and general surgical prostheses and disposables, and for various commercial applications.
Conclusions: further research into shape-memory alloys from scientific and commercial groups should widen their use in vascular and endovascular surgery.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.