Mechanisms of polymer degradation and erosion

Biomaterials. 1996 Jan;17(2):103-14. doi: 10.1016/0142-9612(96)85755-3.


The most important features of the degradation and erosion of degradable polymers in vitro are discussed. Parameters of chemical degradation, which is the scission of the polymer backbone, are described such as the type of polymer bond, pH and copolymer composition. Examples are given how these parameters can be used to control degradation rates. Degradation leads finally to polymer erosion, the loss of material from the polymer bulk. The resulting changes in morphology, pH, oligomer and monomer properties as well as crystallinity are illustrated with selected examples. Finally, a brief survey on approaches to polymer degradation and erosion is given.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / standards
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Models, Chemical
  • Particle Size
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Polymers / metabolism*
  • Porosity
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Water / metabolism


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polymers
  • Water