Calcium alginate gel: a biocompatible and mechanically stable polymer for endovascular embolization

J Biomed Mater Res. 2001 Jan;54(1):76-86. doi: 10.1002/1097-4636(200101)54:1<76::aid-jbm9>;2-v.


The development and optimization of calcium alginate for potential use in endovascular occlusion was investigated by testing its in vitro and in vivo mechanical stability and biocompatibility. The compressive resistance, rheology, and polymer yield of reacted alginate, and the polymer viscosity of unreacted alginate, were assessed. Biocompatibility was tested by injecting calcium alginate into the kidney capsule of rats. The reactivity of alginates with various structures and levels of purity were compared visually and histologically. Results suggest that calcium alginate is a biocompatible and mechanically stable gel for endovascular applications. Purified alginates exhibited compressive strength of 22 kPa and above at 40% compression, with no significant loss in elasticity. Purified alginate strength was significantly higher than that of crude alginates (p < 0.08). Purified alginates also exhibited significantly lower tissue reaction than crude alginates (p < 0.05). Of the alginates tested, purified high guluronic acid alginates (PHG) exhibited optimal strength and polymer yield, increased biocompatibility, and decreased viscosity. Clinical embolization treatments may be improved with the development of stable and biocompatible polymers such as calcium alginate. Possible uses of improved endovascular polymers include treating arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), aneurysms, blood flow to tumors, and vascular hemorrhaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alginates / chemistry*
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials*
  • Elasticity
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Gels
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Materials Testing
  • Polymers
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Renal Circulation / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Viscosity


  • Alginates
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Gels
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • Polymers
  • Glucuronic Acid