US20140107761A1 - Biodegradable stent with enhanced fracture toughness - Google Patents

Biodegradable stent with enhanced fracture toughness Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140107761A1
US20140107761A1 US13/998,194 US201313998194A US2014107761A1 US 20140107761 A1 US20140107761 A1 US 20140107761A1 US 201313998194 A US201313998194 A US 201313998194A US 2014107761 A1 US2014107761 A1 US 2014107761A1
Authority
US
United States
Prior art keywords
stent
polymer
tube
scaffold
orientation
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US13/998,194
Inventor
David C. Gale
Bin Huang
Timothy A. Limon
Vincent J. Gueriguian
Anthony J. Abbate
Klaus Kleine
Stephen Schaible
Jonathan P. Durcan
Thierry Glauser
Bethany Steichen
James Oberhauser
Manish Gada
Lothar Kleiner
Mary Beth Kossuth
Yunbing Wang
Daniel Castro
David Wrolstad
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Abbott Cardiovascular Systems Inc
Original Assignee
Abbott Cardiovascular Systems Inc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US10/899,948 priority Critical patent/US20060020330A1/en
Priority to US10/956,910 priority patent/US8778256B1/en
Priority to US11/413,220 priority patent/US8747878B2/en
Priority to US11/443,947 priority patent/US7971333B2/en
Priority to US11/444,596 priority patent/US8747879B2/en
Priority to US11/454,968 priority patent/US7731890B2/en
Priority to US12/001,777 priority patent/US8268228B2/en
Priority to US8610008P priority
Priority to US9561708P priority
Priority to US12/424,484 priority patent/US8012402B2/en
Priority to US12/490,248 priority patent/US8597716B2/en
Priority to US12/558,105 priority patent/US20110066222A1/en
Priority to US12/559,400 priority patent/US8501079B2/en
Priority to US12/772,698 priority patent/US8323329B2/en
Priority to US12/845,536 priority patent/US8658081B2/en
Priority to US12/806,785 priority patent/US8192678B2/en
Priority to US13/112,960 priority patent/US20110224778A1/en
Priority to US13/192,315 priority patent/US8303296B2/en
Priority to US13/463,562 priority patent/US8715564B2/en
Priority to US13/597,161 priority patent/US8658082B2/en
Priority to US13/631,061 priority patent/US8828305B2/en
Priority to US13/734,879 priority patent/US9211682B2/en
Application filed by Abbott Cardiovascular Systems Inc filed Critical Abbott Cardiovascular Systems Inc
Priority to US13/998,194 priority patent/US20140107761A1/en
Priority to US13/998,199 priority patent/US9517149B2/en
Publication of US20140107761A1 publication Critical patent/US20140107761A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • A61L31/04Macromolecular materials
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    • A61L31/14Materials characterised by their function or physical properties, e.g. injectable or lubricating compositions, shape-memory materials, surface modified materials
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    • B29C69/00Combinations of shaping techniques not provided for in a single one of main groups B29C39/00 - B29C67/00, e.g. associations of moulding and joining techniques; Apparatus therefore
    • B29C69/001Combinations of shaping techniques not provided for in a single one of main groups B29C39/00 - B29C67/00, e.g. associations of moulding and joining techniques; Apparatus therefore a shaping technique combined with cutting, e.g. in parts or slices combined with rearranging and joining the cut parts
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    • A61F2/00Filters implantable into blood vessels; Prostheses, i.e. artificial substitutes or replacements for parts of the body; Appliances for connecting them with the body; Devices providing patency to, or preventing collapsing of, tubular structures of the body, e.g. stents
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Abstract

Stents and methods of manufacturing a stents with enhanced fracture toughness are disclosed.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 13/463,562, filed May 3, 2012, which is a divisional of application Ser. No. 12/806,785, filed Aug. 19, 2010, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,192,678, which is a divisional of application Ser. No. 10/899,948, filed Jul. 26, 2004, now abandoned, all of which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
  • This application is a also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 13/112,960 filed May 20, 2011 which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/443,947 filed on May 30, 2006, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,971,333, all of which are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/444,596 filed May 31, 2006 which is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 11/413,220 filed Apr. 28, 2006, all of which are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This is also a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 12/845,536 filed on Jul. 28, 2010, which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 12/772,698 filed on May 3, 2010, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,323,329, which is a divisional application Ser. No. 11/454,968 filed on Jun. 15, 2006, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,731,890, all of which are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This is also a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 10/956,910 filed on Sep. 30, 2004, which is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/597,161 filed Aug. 28, 2012 which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 12/001,777 filed Dec. 11, 2007, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,268,228, all of which are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 13/734,879 filed Jan. 4, 2013, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/559,400 filed Sep. 14, 2009, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,501,079, all of which are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/558,105 filed Sep. 11, 2009, which is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/490,248 filed Jun. 23, 2009, which is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • This application is also a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 13/631,061 filed Sep. 28, 2012, which is a divisional of application Ser. No. 13/192,315, which is incorporated by reference herein, which was filed on Jul. 27, 2011 which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 12/424,484, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,012,402, which is incorporated by reference herein, which claims benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 61/086,100, which was filed on Aug. 4, 2008 and claims benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 61/095,617, which was filed on Sep. 9, 2008, which is incorporated by reference herein.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • This invention relates to methods of fabricating stents having selected mechanical properties.
  • 2. Description of the State of the Art
  • This invention relates to radially expandable endoprostheses, which are adapted to be implanted in a bodily lumen. An “endoprosthesis” corresponds to an artificial device that is placed inside the body. A “lumen” refers to a cavity of a tubular organ such as a blood vessel.
  • A stent is an example of such an endoprosthesis. Stents are generally cylindrically shaped devices, which function to hold open and sometimes expand a segment of a blood vessel or other anatomical lumen such as urinary tracts and bile ducts. Stents are often used in the treatment of atherosclerotic stenosis in blood vessels. “Stenosis” refers to a narrowing or constriction of the diameter of a bodily passage or orifice. In such treatments, stents reinforce body vessels and prevent restenosis following angioplasty in the vascular system. “Restenosis” refers to the reoccurrence of stenosis in a blood vessel or heart valve after it has been treated (as by balloon angioplasty, stenting, or valvuloplasty) with apparent success.
  • The treatment of a diseased site or lesion with a stent involves both delivery and deployment of the stent. “Delivery” refers to introducing and transporting the stent through a bodily lumen to a region, such as a lesion, in a vessel that requires treatment. “Deployment” corresponds to the expanding of the stent within the lumen at the treatment region. Delivery and deployment of a stent are accomplished by positioning the stent about one end of a catheter, inserting the end of the catheter through the skin into a bodily lumen, advancing the catheter in the bodily lumen to a desired treatment location, expanding the stent at the treatment location, and removing the catheter from the lumen.
  • In the case of a balloon expandable stent, the stent is mounted about a balloon disposed on the catheter. Mounting the stent typically involves compressing or crimping the stent onto the balloon. The stent is then expanded by inflating the balloon. The balloon may then be deflated and the catheter withdrawn. In the case of a self-expanding stent, the stent may be secured to the catheter via a retractable sheath or a sock. When the stent is in a desired bodily location, the sheath may be withdrawn which allows the stent to self-expand.
  • The stent must be able to satisfy a number of mechanical requirements. First, the stent must be capable of withstanding the structural loads, namely radial compressive forces, imposed on the stent as it supports the walls of a vessel. Therefore, a stent must possess adequate radial strength. Radial strength, which is the ability of a stent to resist radial compressive forces, is due to strength and rigidity around a circumferential direction of the stent. Radial strength and rigidity, therefore, may also be described as, hoop or circumferential strength and rigidity.
  • Once expanded, the stent must adequately maintain its size and shape throughout its service life despite the various forces that may come to bear on it, including the cyclic loading induced by the beating heart. For example, a radially directed force may tend to cause a stent to recoil inward. Generally, it is desirable to minimize recoil.
  • In addition, the stent must possess sufficient flexibility to allow for crimping, expansion, and cyclic loading. Longitudinal flexibility is important to allow the stent to be maneuvered through a tortuous vascular path and to enable it to conform to a deployment site that may not be linear or may be subject to flexure. Finally, the stent must be biocompatible so as not to trigger any adverse vascular responses.
  • The structure of a stent is typically composed of scaffolding that includes a pattern or network of interconnecting structural elements often referred to in the art as struts or bar arms. The scaffolding can be formed from wires, tubes, or sheets of material rolled into a cylindrical shape. The scaffolding is designed so that the stent can be radially compressed (to allow crimping) and radially expanded (to allow deployment). A conventional stent is allowed to expand and contract through movement of individual structural elements of a pattern with respect to each other.
  • Additionally, a medicated stent may be fabricated by coating the surface of either a metallic or polymeric scaffolding with a polymeric carrier that includes an active or bioactive agent or drug. Polymeric scaffolding may also serve as a carrier of an active agent or drug.
  • Furthermore, it may be desirable for a stent to be biodegradable. In many treatment applications, the presence of a stent in a body may be necessary for a limited period of time until its intended function of, for example, maintaining vascular patency and/or drug delivery is accomplished. Therefore, stents fabricated from biodegradable, bioabsorbable, and/or bioerodable materials such as bioabsorbable polymers should be configured to completely erode only after the clinical need for them has ended.
  • However, there are potential shortcomings in the use of polymers as a material for implantable medical devices, such as stents. There is a need for a manufacturing process for a stent that addresses such shortcomings so that a polymeric stent can meet the clinical and mechanical requirements of a stent.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Certain embodiments of the present invention include a stent comprising a cylindrically aligned bending element formed by a first bar arm and a second bar arm, the angle between the bar arms being greater than about 90°, wherein the stent is fabricated from a tube radially expanded by at least about 400%.
  • Further embodiments of the present invention include a stent comprising a cylindrically aligned bending element formed by a first bar arm and a second bar arm, an angle between each of the bar arms and the circumferential direction being less than about 45°, wherein the stent is fabricated from a tube radially expanded by at least 500%.
  • Additional embodiments of the present invention include a stent comprising a plurality of cylindrically aligned bending elements, the angles between the bending elements being greater than about 90°.
  • Other embodiments of the present invention include a method of fabricating a stent comprising: radially expanding a tube to at least about 400%; and cutting a pattern comprising a cylindrically aligned bending element formed by a first bar arm and a second bar arm, the angle between the bar arms being greater than about 90°, wherein the stent is fabricated from a tube radially expanded by at least about 400%.
  • Some embodiments of the present invention include a method for fabricating a stent comprising: conveying a gas into a poly(L-lactide) tube disposed within a cylindrical mold to increase a pressure inside the tube, wherein the increased pressure radially expands the polymeric tube to conform to the inside surface of the mold; applying tension along the axis of the tube to axially extend the tube; and fabricating a stent from the radially expanded and axially extended tube.
  • Certain embodiment of the present invention include a method for fabricating a stent comprising: processing a polymer form to increase the Tg of the polymer at least about 10° C.; and fabricating a stent from the processing form.
  • Additional embodiments of the present invention include a method for fabricating a stent comprising: processing a polymer form so as to increase the Tg of the polymer to at least about 40° C. above ambient temperature to allow storage of the processed polymer at the ambient temperature; and fabricating a stent from the processed polymer.
  • Other embodiments of the present invention include a method for fabricating a stent comprising: processing a polymer form so as to increase the Tg of the polymer to at least about 20° C. above a crimping temperature.
  • The present invention includes one or more of the following thirteen embodiments or any combination of the following thirteen embodiments:
  • Embodiment one includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer including crystal domains and amorphous domains, wherein the crystal domains comprise α′ morphology crystal structures, and wherein the scaffold is radially expandable to a deployed state in a blood vessel of a body to hold open the blood vessel.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the crystal domains comprise mostly α′ morphology crystal structure.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure in a fabricated state.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure in a crimped state.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure in the deployed state.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the crystal domains comprise α morphology crystal structure.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the scaffold comprises an uncrimped state and a crimped state, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the uncrimped state, the crimped state, and the deployed state.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the scaffold comprises an uncrimped state and a crimped state, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the uncrimped state.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein the scaffold comprises a crimped state, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the crimped state.
  • The stent of embodiment one, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the deployed state.
  • Embodiment two includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold including a pattern of struts formed into a tube, wherein the tube has been processed to increase crystallinity prior to forming the pattern, wherein the scaffold comprises a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer including crystal domains and amorphous domains, wherein the crystal domains comprise α′ morphology crystal structures, and wherein the scaffold is radially expandable in a blood vessel of a body to a deployed state to hold open the blood vessel.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the crystal domains comprise mostly α′ morphology crystal structure.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure in a fabricated state.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure in a crimped state.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the crystal domains comprise only α′ morphology crystal structure in the deployed state.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the crystal domains comprise α morphology crystal structure.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the scaffold comprises an uncrimped state and a crimped state, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the uncrimped state, the crimped state, and the deployed state.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the scaffold comprises an uncrimped state and a crimped state, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the uncrimped state.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein the scaffold comprises a crimped state, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the crimped state.
  • The stent of embodiment two, wherein only α′ crystal structure is detectable by WAXD in the deployed state.
  • Embodiment three includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold including struts comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein the struts have a luminal surface and an abluminal surface, wherein the polymer has induced polymer orientation in the circumferential direction, and wherein the induced orientation decreases from the luminal surface to the abluminal surface of the struts.
  • The stent of embodiment three, wherein the polymer has the induced orientation in a radial section between the luminal surface and a transition radial distance and no induced orientation between the transition radial distance and the abluminal surface.
  • The stent of embodiment three, wherein the polymer has the induced orientation in a radial section between the luminal surface and a transition radial distance and no induced orientation between the transition radial distance and the abluminal surface, and wherein the transition radial distance is ⅓ to ½ of the radial thickness of the struts.
  • The stent of embodiment three, wherein the scaffold is formed by cutting a pattern in a radially expanded tube having the induced orientation that was induced by radially expanding the tube.
  • The stent of embodiment three, wherein a degree of the induced orientation is uniform around a circumference of the scaffold.
  • Embodiment four includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold including struts formed by cutting a pattern of the struts in a tube comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein biodegradable polymer has induced polymer orientation in the circumferential direction of the tube, and wherein the induced orientation decreases from an inner surface to an outer surface of the tube.
  • The stent of embodiment four, wherein the polymer has the induced orientation in a radial section between the inner surface and a transition radial distance and no induced orientation between the transition radial distance and the outer surface.
  • The stent of embodiment four, wherein the transition radial distance is ⅓ to ½ of the radial thickness of the tube.
  • The stent of embodiment four, wherein a degree of the induced orientation is uniform around a circumference of the tube.
  • The stent of embodiment four, wherein the orientation is induced by radially expanding the tube.
  • Embodiment five includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold including struts comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein the struts have a luminal surface and an abluminal surface, and wherein a luminal radial section of the struts exhibits birefringence and an abluminal radial section is optically isotropic when viewed with polarized light.
  • The stent of embodiment five, wherein the luminal radial thickness is ⅓ to ½ of a radial thickness of the struts from the luminal to abluminal surface.
  • Embodiment six includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold including struts formed by cutting a pattern of the struts in a tube comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer; and wherein an inner radial section of the tube exhibits birefringence and an outer radial section is optically isotropic when viewed with polarized light.
  • The stent of embodiment six, wherein the inner radial thickness is ⅓ to ½ of a radial thickness of the tube from the luminal to abluminal surface.
  • Embodiment seven includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold including struts made from a tube comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, and wherein the polymer has induced polymer orientation in the circumferential direction and a degree of the induced orientation is uniform around a circumference of the tube.
  • Embodiment eight includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer in a crimped configuration, wherein the scaffold includes a bending element comprising a first strut section and a second strut section connected at a crest, the bending element flexes inward at the crest when the scaffold is crimped to the crimped configuration, wherein the crest comprises an outer convex sidewall surface and an inner concave sidewall surface, wherein polymer molecular orientation is induced in the crest between the outer convex sidewall surface and the inner concave sidewall surface when the scaffold is crimped and a degree of the induced orientation decreases from the outer convex sidewall surface to the inner concave sidewall surface, wherein the scaffold is radially expandable to a deployed configuration in a blood vessel of a body to hold open the blood vessel.
  • The stent of embodiment eight, wherein there is no induced orientation in the first strut section and second strut section.
  • The stent of embodiment eight, wherein there is no change in crystal structure in the crest from a uncrimped configuration to the crimped configuration, the crystal structure being mostly α′ morphology.
  • The stent of embodiment eight, wherein polarized light microscopy of the crests show an increase in retardance from the inner surface and the outer surface.
  • The stent of embodiment eight, wherein when the scaffold is expanded to the deployed configuration, the induced orientation is retained.
  • The stent of embodiment eight, wherein when the scaffold is expanded to the deployed configuration, the induced orientation is retained, wherein cracks propagate at the inner surface when the scaffold is deployed with no cracks at the outer surface, the retained orientation inhibiting crack propagation to the outer surface.
  • The stent of embodiment eight, wherein the crest comprises shear bands at or adjacent to the inner concave sidewall surface.
  • Embodiment nine includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer having a crimped configuration, wherein the scaffold is radially expandable from the crimped configuration to a deployed configuration, wherein the scaffold includes a bending element comprising a first strut section and a second strut section connected at a crest comprising an outer convex side and an inner concave side, wherein the bending element flexes inward when the scaffold is crimped to the crimped configuration and flexes outward when the scaffold is expanded from the crimped configuration to the deployed configuration, and wherein the inner side is under compression when the scaffold is in the crimped configuration and when the scaffold is deployed, the tension on the inner side is relieved via surface craze regions which grow into diamond-shaped voids that include fibrils spanning the voids upon deployment.
  • The stent of embodiment nine, wherein the inner side comprises the craze regions in the crimped configuration.
  • The stent of embodiment nine, wherein the polymer at the inner sidewall surface of the crest has no or lower induced polymer molecular orientation as compared to the outer sidewall surface of the crest.
  • The stent of embodiment nine, wherein the polymer at the inner sidewall surface of the crest has no or lower induced polymer molecular orientation as compared to the outer sidewall surface of the crest, and wherein the polymer molecular orientation in the outer sidewall surface crest is induced upon crimping and the induced orientation is retained when the scaffold is deployed.
  • The stent of embodiment nine, wherein the polymer at the inner sidewall surface of the crest has no or lower induced polymer molecular orientation as compared to the outer sidewall surface of the crest, and wherein the outer sidewall surface of the crest comprises no crazing or fracture in the crimped and deployed configurations, the induced polymer orientation at the outer sidewall surface of the crest acts as a barrier to crack propagation from the inner side of the crest.
  • The stent of embodiment nine, wherein the polymer at the inner sidewall surface of the crest has no or lower induced polymer molecular orientation as compared to the outer sidewall surface of the crest, wherein neither crimping nor deployment induce a change in polymer orientation within the strut sections.
  • Embodiment ten includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein the scaffold is radially expandable from a crimped configuration to a deployed configuration, wherein the scaffold includes a bending element comprising a first strut section and a second strut section connected at a crest comprising an outer convex side and an inner concave side, wherein the bending element flexes inward when the scaffold is crimped to the crimped configuration and flexes outward when the scaffold is expanded from the crimped configuration to the deployed configuration, and wherein a degree of induced polymer orientation increases from a strut section and the crest along the outer sidewall surface of the crest.
  • The stent of embodiment ten, wherein the polymer molecular orientation in the outer crest is induced upon crimping and the induced orientation is retained when the scaffold is deployed.
  • The stent of embodiment ten, wherein the outer sidewall surface of the crest comprises no crazing or fracture in the crimped and deployed configurations, the induced polymer orientation at the outer sidewall surface acts as a barrier to crack propagation from the inner side of the crest.
  • The stent of embodiment ten, wherein neither crimping nor deployment induce a change in polymer orientation within the strut sections.
  • Embodiment eleven includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein the scaffold is radially expandable from a crimped configuration to a deployed configuration, wherein the scaffold includes a bending element comprising a first strut section and a second strut section connected at a crest comprising an outer convex side and an inner concave side, wherein the bending element flexes inward when the scaffold is crimped to the crimped configuration and flexes outward when the scaffold is expanded from the crimped configuration to the deployed configuration, and wherein polymer molecular orientation is induced in the outer side of the crest upon crimping and the induced polymer orientation is retained when the scaffold is deployed.
  • The stent of embodiment eleven, wherein the polymer at the inner side of the crests has no or lower induced polymer molecular orientation as compared to the outer side of the crest.
  • Embodiment twelve includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein the scaffold is radially expandable from a crimped configuration to a deployed configuration, wherein the scaffold includes a bending element comprising a first strut section and a second strut section connected at a crest comprising an outer convex side and an inner concave side, wherein the bending element flexes inward when the scaffold is crimped to the crimped configuration and flexes outward when the scaffold is expanded from the crimped configuration to the deployed configuration, and wherein the outer sidewall surface of the crest comprises no crazing or fracture in the crimped and deployed configurations, induced polymer orientation at the outer side acts as a barrier to crack propagation from the inner side of the crest.
  • Embodiment thirteen includes a biodegradable stent comprising: a scaffold comprising a poly(L-lactide)-based biodegradable polymer, wherein the scaffold is radially expandable from the crimped configuration to a deployed configuration, wherein the scaffold includes a bending element comprising a first strut section and a second strut section connected at a crest comprising an outer convex side and an inner concave side, wherein the bending element flexes inward when the scaffold is crimped to the crimped configuration and flexes outward when the scaffold is expanded from the crimped configuration to the deployed configuration, and wherein the retardance of polarized light directed on the bending element increases between the first or second strut section and the crest at the outer side of the crest.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.
  • FIG. 1 depicts a stent.
  • FIGS. 2A-C depict blow-molding of a polymeric tube.
  • FIG. 3 depicts an exemplary stent pattern.
  • FIG. 4 depicts a bending element from the pattern in FIG. 3.
  • FIG. 5 depicts an alternative stent pattern.
  • FIGS. 6-8 depict images of expanded stents.
  • FIGS. 9-10 depict graphs of differential scanning calorimetry results.
  • FIG. 11 depicts a tube illustrating the cylindrical coordinate system for a tube or scaffold geometry useful for characterizing spatial variation in microstructure properties.
  • FIG. 12 depicts the Michel-Levy chart that includes interference colors that describe optical retardance due to crystallite orientation.
  • FIGS. 13A-D depict images of the sample scaffolds.
  • FIGS. 14A-D depict an expanded tube, a laser cut scaffold, a crimped scaffold, and a deployed scaffold, respectively.
  • FIG. 15 depicts a tube prior to radial expansion and the tube after radial expansion.
  • FIG. 16 depicts a radial cross-section of a ring cut from an expanded tube having an inner surface and outer surface.
  • FIG. 17 depicts PLM images of three radial sections between the OD and the ID of the tube.
  • FIG. 18 depicts the 2-D WAXD patterns of the intensity vs. q vector of the five azimuthal sections of FIG. 16.
  • FIG. 19 shows a 1-D WAXD pattern from the literature showing differences between α and α′ crystal structures.
  • FIG. 20 shows 2-D and 1-D WAXD patterns of the sections 1 to 5 of FIG. 16 from left to right illustrating the azimuthal uniformity of α′ crystal structure of the expanded tube.
  • FIG. 21 depicts a crimped scaffold and two PLM images of radial sections of a free crest and a W crest.
  • FIGS. 22A-22D depict WAXD patterns of radial sections of a free crest in regions at or adjacent to the outer edge and the inner edge of the crest, respectively.
  • FIGS. 23A-D depict images of samples of an expanded tube, as-cut scaffold, crimped scaffold, and deployed scaffold with an overlay of the initial (tube and as-cut scaffold) azimuthal chain orientation (arrows) and the WAXD reflection orientation of 200/110 crystal (dumbbells).
  • FIG. 24 depicts PLM images of a W crest of a crimped scaffold at different rotational positions of the polarizer.
  • FIG. 25 depicts a region in FIG. 24 in detail including a section enclosed by an oval from the region having a principal axis at 45° relative to the polarizing filter.
  • FIG. 26 depicts a deployed scaffold and a PLM image of radial sections of a free crest and 2-D WAXD patterns from locations along the outer edge or bend of the crest between strut sections or bar arms.
  • FIG. 27 depicts the PLM image of FIG. 26 showing a larger portion of the crest and strut sections.
  • FIG. 28 depicts the PLM image of the FIG. 26 and 2-D WAXD patterns showing weakly oriented PLLA in the inner edge of the crest adjacent to highly oriented fibrils within a craze.
  • FIG. 29A depicts close-up view of the PLM image of the inner edge of FIG. 28.
  • FIG. 29B depicts a grid of sections of the delineated region of FIG. 29A scanned by WAXD.
  • FIG. 30 depicts an SEM image of a deployed scaffold and an SEM image at a higher resolution of a cross-section of an inner edge of a crest.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The various embodiments of the present invention relate to polymeric stents and methods of fabricating polymeric stents with favorable mechanical properties. The present invention can be applied to devices including, but is not limited to, self-expandable stents, balloon-expandable stents, stent-grafts, and grafts (e.g., aortic grafts).
  • A stent can have a scaffolding or a substrate that includes a pattern of a plurality of interconnecting structural elements or struts. FIG. 1 depicts an example of a view of a stent 100. Stent 100 has a cylindrical shape with an axis 160 and includes a pattern with a number of interconnecting structural elements or struts 110. In general, a stent pattern is designed so that the stent can be radially compressed (crimped) and radially expanded (to allow deployment). The stresses involved during compression and expansion are generally distributed throughout various structural elements of the stent pattern. The present invention is not limited to the stent pattern depicted in FIG. 1. The variation in stent patterns is virtually unlimited.
  • The underlying structure or substrate of a stent can be completely or at least in part made from a biodegradable polymer or combination of biodegradable polymers, a biostable polymer or combination of biostable polymers, or a combination of biodegradable and biostable polymers. Additionally, a polymer-based coating for a surface of a device can be a biodegradable polymer or combination of biodegradable polymers, a biostable polymer or combination of biostable polymers, or a combination of biodegradable and biostable polymers.
  • A stent such as stent 100 may be fabricated from a polymeric tube or a sheet by rolling and bonding the sheet to form a tube. A stent pattern may be formed on a polymeric tube by laser cutting a pattern on the tube. Representative examples of lasers that may be used include, but are not limited to, excimer, carbon dioxide, and YAG. In other embodiments, chemical etching may be used to form a pattern on a tube.
  • The pattern of stent 100 in FIG. 1 varies throughout its structure to allow radial expansion and compression and longitudinal flexure. A pattern may include portions of struts that are straight or relatively straight, an example being a portion 120. In addition, patterns may include bending elements 130, 140, and 150.
  • Bending elements bend inward when a stent is crimped to allow radial compression. Bending elements also bend outward when a stent is expanded to allow for radial expansion. After deployment, a stent is under static and cyclic compressive loads from the vessel walls. Thus, bending elements are subjected to deformation during use. “Use” includes, but is not limited to, manufacturing, assembling (e.g., crimping stent on a catheter), delivery of stent into and through a bodily lumen to a treatment site, and deployment of stent at a treatment site, and treatment after deployment.
  • As indicated above, a stent has certain mechanical requirements. A stent must have sufficient radial strength to withstand structural loads, namely radial compressive forces, imposed on the stent as it supports the walls of a vessel. In addition, the stent must possess sufficient flexibility to allow for crimping, expansion, and cyclic loading. Also, a sufficiently low profile, that includes diameter and size of struts, is important. As the profile of a stent decreases, the easier is its delivery, and the smaller the disruption of blood flow.
  • Polymers tend to have a number of shortcomings for use as materials for stents. One such shortcoming is that many biodegradable polymers have a relatively low modulus, and thus relatively low radial strength. Compared to metals, the strength to weight ratio of polymers is smaller than that of metals. A polymeric stent with inadequete radial strength can result in mechanical failure or recoil inward after implantation into a vessel. To compensate for the relatively low modulus, a polymeric stent requires significantly thicker struts than a metallic stent, which results in an undesirably large profile.
  • Another shortcoming of polymers is that many polymers, such as biodegradable polymers, tend to be brittle under physiological conditions or conditions within a human body. Specifically, such polymers can have a Tg, which is defined below, above human body temperature which is approximately 37° C. These polymer systems exhibit a brittle fracture mechanism in which there is little or no plastic deformation prior to failure. As a result, a stent fabricated from such polymers can have insufficient toughness for the range of use of a stent. In particular, it is important for a stent to be resistant to fracture throughout the range of use of a stent, i.e., crimping, delivery, deployment, and during a desired treatment period.
  • The “glass transition temperature,” Tg, is the temperature at which the amorphous domains of a polymer change from a brittle vitreous state to a solid deformable or ductile state at atmospheric pressure. In other words, the Tg corresponds to the temperature where the onset of segmental motion in the chains of the polymer occurs. When an amorphous or semicrystalline polymer is exposed to an increasing temperature, the coefficient of expansion and the heat capacity of the polymer both increase as the temperature is raised, indicating increased molecular motion. As the temperature is raised the actual molecular volume in the sample remains constant, and so a higher coefficient of expansion points to an increase in free volume associated with the system and therefore increased freedom for the molecules to move. The increasing heat capacity corresponds to an increase in heat dissipation through movement. Tg of a given polymer can be dependent on the heating rate and can be influenced by the thermal history of the polymer. Furthermore, the chemical structure of the polymer heavily influences the glass transition by affecting mobility.
  • Other potential problems with polymeric stents include creep, stress relaxation, and physical aging. Creep refers to the gradual deformation that occurs in a polymeric construct subjected to an applied load. It is believed that the delayed response of polymer chains to stress during deformation causes creep behavior. Creep occurs even when the applied load is constant. Creep can cause an expanded stent to retract radially inward, reducing the effectiveness of a stent in maintaining desired vascular patency. The rate at which polymers creep depends not only on the load, but also on temperature. In general, a loaded construct creeps faster at higher temperatures.
  • Stress relaxation is also a consequence of delayed molecular motions as in creep. Contrary to creep, however, which is experienced when the load is constant, stress relaxation occurs when deformation (or strain) is constant and is manifested by a reduction in the force (stress) required to maintain a constant deformation
  • Physical aging, as used herein, refers to densification in the amorphous regions of a semi-crystalline polymer. Physical aging of semi-crystalline polymers that have glass transition temperatures (Tg) above their normal storage temperature, which, for the purposes of this invention is room temperature, i.e., from about 15° C. to about 35° C., occurs primarily through the phenomenon known as densification. Densification occurs when polymer chains rearrange in order to move from a non-equilibrium state to an equilibrium state. The reordering of polymer chains tends to increase the modulus of the polymer resulting in a brittle or more brittle polymer.
  • Thus, physical aging results in an increase in brittleness of a polymer which can result in cracking of struts upon crimping and deployment. Since physical aging results from densification of amorphous regions of a polymer, an increase in crystallinity can reduce or inhibit physical aging.
  • However, it is well known by those skilled in the art that the mechanical properties of a polymer can be modified through various processing techniques, such as, by applying stress to a polymer. James L. White and Joseph E. Spruiell, Polymer and Engineering Science, 1981, Vol. 21, No. 13. The application of stress can induce molecular orientation along the direction of stress which can modify mechanical properties along the direction of applied stress. For example, strength and modulus are some of the important properties that depend upon orientation of polymer chains in a polymer. Molecular orientation refers to the relative orientation of polymer chains along a longitudinal or covalent axis of the polymer chains.
  • A polymer may be completely amorphous, partially crystalline, or almost completely crystalline. A partially crystalline polymer includes crystalline regions separated by amorphous regions. The crystalline regions do not necessarily have the same or similar orientation of polymer chains. However, a high degree of orientation of crystallites may be induced by applying stress to a semi-crystalline polymer. The stress may also induce orientation in the amorphous regions. An oriented amorphous region also tends to have high strength and high modulus along an axis of alignment of polymer chains. Additionally, for some polymers under some conditions, induced alignment in an amorphous polymer may be accompanied by crystallization of the amorphous polymer into an ordered structure. This is known as stress induced crystallization.
  • As indicated above, due to the magnitude and directions of stresses imposed on a stent during use, it is important for the mechanical stability of the stent to have suitable mechanical properties, such as strength and modulus, in the axial and circumferential directions. Therefore, it can be advantageous to modify the mechanical properties of a tube, to be used in the fabrication of a stent, by induced orientation from applied stress in the axial direction, circumferential direction, or both. Since highly oriented regions in polymers tend to be associated with higher strength and modulus, it may be desirable to incorporate processes that induce alignment of polymer chains along one or more preferred axes or directions into fabrication of stents.
  • Therefore, it can be desirable to fabricate a stent from a polymeric tube with induced orientation in the axial direction and in the circumferential direction. A biaxial oriented tube may be configured to have desired strength and modulus in both the circumferential and axial directions.
  • The degree of radial expansion, and thus induced radial orientation and strength, of a tube can be quantified by a radial expansion (RE) ratio:
  • Outside Diameter ( OD ) of Expanded Tube Original Inside Diameter ( ID ) of Tube
  • The RE ratio can also be expressed as a percent expansion:

  • % Radial expansion=(RE ratio−1)×100%
  • Similarly, the degree of axial extension, and thus induced axial orientation and strength, may be quantified by an axial extension (AE) ratio:
  • Length of Extended Tube Original Length of Tube
  • The AE ratio can also be expressed as a percent expansion:

  • % Axial expansion=(AE ratio−1)×100%
  • In some embodiments, a polymeric tube may be deformed by blow molding. In blow molding, a tube can be deformed or expanded radially by increasing a pressure in the tube by conveying a fluid into the tube. The polymer tube may be deformed or extended axially by applying a tensile force by a tension source at one end while holding the other end stationary. Alternatively, a tensile force may be applied at both ends of the tube. The tube may be axially extended before, during, and/or after radial expansion.
  • In some embodiments, blow molding may include first positioning a tube in a cylindrical member or mold. The mold may act to control the degree of radial deformation of the tube by limiting the deformation of the outside diameter or surface of the tube to the inside diameter of the mold. The inside diameter of the mold may correspond to a diameter less than or equal to a desired diameter of the polymer tube. Alternatively, the fluid temperature and pressure may be used to control the degree of radial deformation by limiting deformation of the inside diameter of the tube as an alternative to or in combination with using the mold.
  • The temperature of the tube can be heated to temperatures above the Tg of the polymer during deformation to facilitate deformation. The polymer tube may also be heated prior to, during, and subsequent to the deformation. In one embodiment, the tube may be heated by conveying a gas above ambient temperature on and/or into the tube. The gas may be the same gas used to increase the pressure in the tube. In another embodiment, the tube may be heated by translating a heating element or nozzle adjacent to the tube. In other embodiments, the tube may be heated by the mold. The mold may be heated, for example, by heating elements on, in, and/or adjacent to the mold.
  • Certain embodiments may include first sealing, blocking, or closing a polymer tube at a distal end. The end may be open in subsequent manufacturing steps. The fluid, (conventionally a gas such as air, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, etc.) may then be conveyed into a proximal end of the polymer tube to increase the pressure in the tube. The pressure of the fluid in the tube may act to radially expand the tube.
  • Additionally, the pressure inside the tube, the tension along the cylindrical axis of the tube, and the temperature of the tube may be maintained above ambient levels for a period of time to allow the polymer tube to be heat set. Heat setting may include maintaining a tube at a temperature greater than or equal to the Tg of the polymer and less than the Tm of the polymer for a selected period to time. The selected period of time may be between about one minute and about two hours, or more narrowly, between about two minutes and about ten minutes.
  • In heat setting, the polymer tube may then be cooled to below its Tg either before or after decreasing the pressure and/or decreasing tension. Cooling the tube helps insure that the tube maintains the proper shape, size, and length following its formation. Upon cooling, the deformed tube retains the length and shape imposed by an inner surface of the mold.
  • Properties of a polymer such as fracture toughness are affected by the overall degree of crystallinity and the number and size of crystal domains in a semi-crystalline polymer. It has been observed that fracture toughness is increased by having a large number of small crystal domains in a polymer surrounded by an amorphous domain. Such a crystal structure can also reduce or prevent creep, stress relaxation, and physical aging. In some embodiments, the size of crystal domains may be less than 10 microns, 4 microns, or, more narrowly, less than 2 microns. The overall crystallinity may be less than 50%, 40% or, more narrowly, less than 20%.
  • In certain embodiments, the temperature of the deformation process and/or heat setting can be used to control the crystallinity to obtain the desired crystal structure described above. In general, crystallization tends to occur in a polymer at temperatures between Tg and Tm of the polymer and it varies with temperature in this range. In some embodiments, the temperature can be in a range in which the crystal nucleation rate is larger than the crystal growth rate. In one embodiment, the temperature can be in a range in which the crystal nucleation rate is substantially larger than the crystal growth rate. For example, the temperature can be where the ratio of the crystal nucleation rate to crystal growth rate is 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, or greater than 100. In another embodiment, the temperature range may be in range between about Tg to about 0.2(Tm−Tg)+Tg.
  • FIGS. 2A-C illustrate an embodiment of blow molding a polymer tube for use in manufacturing a stent. FIG. 2A depicts an axial cross-section of a polymer tube 200 with an outside diameter 205 positioned within a mold 210. FIG. 2B depicts a radial cross-section of polymer tube 200 and mold 210. Mold 210 may act to limit the radial deformation of polymer tube 200 to a diameter 215, the inside diameter of mold 205. Polymer tube 200 may be closed at a distal end 220. Distal end 220 may be open in subsequent manufacturing steps. A fluid may be conveyed, as indicated by an arrow 225, into an open proximal end 230 of polymer tube 200. A tensile force 235 is applied at proximal end 230 and a distal end 220.
  • Polymer tube 200 is heated by heating nozzles 260 on a support 265 that blow a heated gas as shown by arrows 270. Support 265 translates back and forth along the axis of the mold as shown by arrows 275 and 280. The increase in pressure inside of polymer tube 200, facilitated by an increase in temperature of the polymer tube, causes radial deformation of polymer tube 200, as indicated by an arrow 240. FIG. 2C depicts polymer tube 200 in a deformed state with an outside diameter 245 within mold 210.
  • To illustrate the importance of orientation in a stent pattern, FIG. 3 depicts an exemplary stent pattern 300 for use with embodiments of a polymeric tube or a sheet. In an embodiment, stent pattern 300 can be cut from a polymeric tube using laser machining. Stent pattern 300 is shown in a flattened condition so that the pattern can be clearly viewed. When the flattened portion of stent pattern 300 is in a cylindrical form, it forms a radially expandable stent.
  • As depicted in FIG. 3, stent pattern 300 includes a plurality of cylindrical rings 305 with each ring including a plurality of diamond shaped cells 310. Embodiments of stent pattern 300 may have any number of rings 305 depending on a desired length of a stent. For reference, line A-A represents the longitudinal axis of a stent using the pattern depicted in FIG. 3. Diamond shaped cells 310 include bending elements 315 and 320. Stent pattern 300 can also includes bending elements 325 and 330. The angles of bending elements 315, 320, 325, and 330 correspond to angles θ1, θ2, θ3, and θ4. Angles θ1, θ2, θ3, and θ4 are 42, 42, 41, and 21 degrees, respectively. Diamond shaped cells 310 are made up of bar arms 335 and 340 that form bending element 315 and bar arms 345 and 350 that form bending element 320.
  • When stent 300 is crimped, bending elements 315, 320, 325, and 330 flex inward and angles θ1, θ2, θ3, and θ4 decrease, allowing the stent to be radially compressed. With respect to bending elements 315, 320, and 325, struts on either side of the bending elements bend toward each other. However, in bending element 330, the strut of the diamond-shaped element tends to bend toward the linking strut which tends to remain relatively parallel to the longitudinal axis during crimping.
  • Pattern 300 further includes linking arms 355 that connect adjacent cylindrical rings. Linking arms 355 are parallel to line A-A and connect adjacent rings between intersection 360 of cylindrically adjacent diamond-shaped elements 310 of one ring and intersection 360 of cylindrically adjacent diamond shaped elements 310 of an adjacent ring. As shown, linking elements connect every other intersection along the circumference.
  • The curved portions of bending elements experience substantial stress and strain when a stent is crimped and deployed. Therefore high strength and toughness are very important in these regions. For example, a close-up view of bending element 315 is depicted in FIG. 4 to illustrate the direction of stress in a bending element. Compressive and outward radial stress on a stent cause substantially no strain in straight sections 400. However, such radial stresses result in relatively high stress and strain in curved portion 410 of bending element 315. For example, when a stent is expanded, angle θ1 of bending element 315 increases. The region above a neutral axis 415 experiences relatively high compressive stress and strain and the region below neutral axis 415 experiences relatively high tensile stress and strain. Alternatively, when a stent is crimped, angle θ1 of bending element 315 decreases and there is tensile stress and strain above neutral axis 415 and compressive stress and strain below neutral axis 415.
  • The tensile and compressive strain follow the axis or curvature of bending element 315, for example, line 420. Ideally, the most effective orientation to improve fracture toughness is along the length of the axis of the strut. However, radial expansion imparts orientation and fracture toughness along the circumferential direction, as shown by line B-B. An angle φ between a point on the axis of the stent and the circumferential direction B-B tends to decrease moving along bending element 315 from the straight sections 400 to an apex 425 of bending element 315.
  • An exemplary stent having the pattern of FIG. 3 can be cut from a poly(L-lactide) (PLLA) tube that is about 0.084 in inside diameter. A desired crimped diameter may be about 0.055 in and an expanded diameter about of 0.134 in. Such a stent can be fabricated from an extruded tube that is radially expanded between 200% and 400%. For a stent with the pattern shown in FIG. 3, and the dimensions provided above, cracks have been observed to form in the curved portion of bending elements upon expansion of the stent to the expanded diameter.
  • For a given radius of curvature, increasing angle θ1 of bending element 315 tends to increase angle φ along the axis of bending element 315, making bending element 315 along curved portion 410 closer in orientation with the circumferential direction B-B. As a result, the strength and toughness of bending element 315 are increased when there is induced radial orientation in the stent. The relative orientation of points along the axis, angle φ, of a bending element also depends on the radius of curvature. Increasing the radius of curvature of bending element 315 also makes bending element 315 along curved portion 410 closer in orientation with the circumferential direction B-B.
  • Therefore, it is advantageous to decrease the relative orientation between the axis of bar arms or struts in curved portions and the circumferential direction in a fabricated stent. Certain embodiments of the invention include stents having bending elements with angles greater than about 80°, or more narrowly, greater than about 90°, or 110°. The stent may have an uncrimped or fabricated diameter that allows the stent to be crimped to a selected crimped diameter at which the bending elements have an angle between 0° to 50°, or more narrowly between 0° to 30°.
  • FIG. 5 depicts a stent pattern 500 similar to pattern 300 in FIG. 3. The angles of bending elements 515, 520, 525, and 530 are about 113°, 113°, 116°, and 55°, respectively. Therefore, the orientation of points on the axis of the bending elements of pattern 500 are closer to the circumferential direction than that in stent pattern 300. The radii of curvature of bending element 515 and 520 can be between about 0.014 in and 0.02 in. The radii of curvature of bending element 525 can be between about 0.009 in and 0.013 in. The radii of curvature of bending element 525 can be between about 0.0026 in and 0.0035 in.
  • In an embodiment, the outside diameter (OD) of a fabricated stent can be between 0.07 in and 0.165 in. The crimped diameter of a stent having stent pattern 500 may be less than 0.06 in, 0.036 in, 0.032 in, or more narrowly less than 0.028 in.
  • In certain embodiments, it may be advantages to fabricate a stent from a tube that has been radial expanded to greater than 400%. As indicated above, cracks have been observed in high strain regions of stent fabricated from a tube expanded in the 200% to 400% range. In some embodiments, a stent may be fabricated from a tube that has been radial expanded to greater than 500%, 600%, 700%, or greater than 800%. The tube may be used to fabricate stents having a variety of patterns. In some embodiments, a stent with a stent pattern 500 can be fabricated from tube radially expanded to greater than 400%.
  • Such a stent may then show a greater increase in fracture toughness and stress over a stent fabricated from a tube radially expanded in a range between 200% and 400%. As a result, such a stent may have fewer or no cracks when expanded to an intended deployment diameter. Increasing the degree of expansion tends to impart greater strength and toughness. Thus, increasing the degree of expansion may extend the range of a diameter that a stent can be deployed.
  • Exemplary process conditions for expanding a PLLA tube between 400% and 700% include a temperature of heated air at the heat nozzle between 205° F. and 285° F. The heat nozzle air flow rate can be between about 60 and 65 SCFH (standard cubic feet per hour). The pressure of nitrogen conveyed into the tube can be between 177 psi and 250 psi. The tension applied axially to extend the tube can be between about 75 g and 105 g.
  • The advantages of expanding in a range greater than 400% is shown by the following example. A PLLA tube was extruded to an ID of 0.024 in and an OD of 0.074 in. The extruded tubing was radially expanded using blow molding 470% to an ID of 0.125 in and OD of 0.137 in. Five stents were prepared from the expanded tubing. The expanded tubing was laser cut to form a stents with a pattern similar to stent pattern 500 in FIG. 5. The stents were crimped, mounted on a catheter, and sterilized with E-beam radiation.
  • The stents were expanded by a balloon on the catheter in a 37° C. water bath to 0.138 in. The stents were removed and examined. FIGS. 6 and 7 show images of a stent expanded to 0.138 in. FIG. 6 depicts the entire stent and FIG. 7 depicts a close-up view. The stent appears to be substantially free of cracks.
  • The stents were placed on another catheter and expanded further to 0.158 in. FIG. 8 depicts an image of this expanded stent which shows cracks forming in the high strain regions. The images demonstrate the effectiveness of increased biaxial orientation for the PLLA system.
  • As shown above, radial expansion above 400% can increases fracture toughness of an expanded stent. Radial expansion above 400% can also address other issues with polymeric stents, such as stent retention during crimping and physical aging during long term storage.
  • As discussed above, physical aging results in an increase in brittleness of a polymer which can result in cracking of struts upon crimping and deployment. Polymeric stents generally are stored below ambient temperatures to reduce or prevent physical aging the polymer that can cause cracking in stent struts during crimping and deployment. Stents can be stored in freezers at temperatures below 0° C. Storing the polymeric stents at low temperature reduces the segmental motions of polymer chains that result in densification.
  • In general, it would be desirable to store a polymeric stent close to ambient temperature. However, many polymers have Tg's low enough to allow significant long term aging or densification to occur during the time frame of long term storage, which can be a few days, a month, 3 months, 6 months, or more than 6 months. Although Tg is defined as the temperature at which the onset of segmental motion in the chains of the polymer occurs, the glass transition is not sharp or discontinuous for a polymer with amorphous regions. Rather, there is a gradual transition from the brittle to the ductile state corresponding to a gradual increase in segmental motion. Thus, even for polymers with Tg's above ambient temperatures, significant physical aging can occur during long term storage. Increasing the difference between the storage temperature and the Tg reduces the segmental motion of polymer chains which reduces or eliminate the effects of long term aging.
  • In addition, crimping of a polymeric stent at ambient temperatures can result in an outward recoil of the stent from the crimped radius, reducing stent retention on the catheter. Due to shape memory of the polymer, the stent recoils outward toward the fabricated diameter.
  • Such outward recoil can be reduced by heating the stent above ambient temperatures during crimping. However, it has been observed that elevated crimping temperatures can result in fracture of struts during crimping and upon deployment. Specifically, a PLLA stent fabricated from a polymeric tube expanded 300% from an extruded tube that is crimped at 50° C. results in fracture during deployment. This observed increase in mechanical damage to the stent is a result of stress relaxation of the polymer during the crimping process, due to the crimping being conducted close to the Tg of the polymer. This stress relaxation will result in greater experienced stress during the expansion of the stent during deployment. This will, in turn, result in a greater probability of cracking during the expansion of the stent.
  • Increasing the difference between the elevated crimping temperature and the Tg reduces the likelihood of cracking of struts.
  • In general, deforming a polymer form or construct can increase the Tg of the polymer. The increased order from orientation and induced crystallization caused by deformation tends to increase the temperature necessary for segmental motion of polymer chains, which corresponds to Tg.
  • For a given polymer system, the degree of deformation, or specifically, expansion of a polymeric tube, may be correlated with an increase in Tg. Thus, an increase in Tg can allow storage of the polymer form at a higher temperature with little or no negative effects of physical aging, or other visco-elastic phenomena. For example, the Tg can be increased to allow storage at ambient temperature. In addition, the Tg can be increased to allow crimping at a selected elevated temperature without cracking of stent struts.
  • In certain embodiments, a stent can be fabricated from a polymeric tube that allows crimping at a selected elevated temperature with no or substantially no cracking of struts. The polymeric tube can be radially expanded to a degree of expansion that allows crimping at the elevated temperature. The degree of expansion can be between 200% and 400%. In other embodiments, the degree of expansion can be between 400% and 800%. The selected elevated temperature can be at least 10° C., 20° C., 30° C., 40° C., or 50° C. below the Tg of the polymer.
  • In additional embodiments, a stent can be fabricated from a polymeric tube that allows long term storage at a selected temperature. For example, the temperature can be at or near an ambient temperature. The polymeric tube can be radially expanded to a degree of expansion that allows storage at the selected temperature with little or no negative effects of physical aging. As above, the degree of expansion can be between 200% and 400%. In other embodiments, the degree of expansion can be between 400% and 800%. The storage temperature can at least 30° C., 40° C., 50° C., 60° C., or 70° C. below the Tg of the polymer.
  • Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was used to study the increase in the Tg due the radial orientation induced by radial expansion. In general, DSC is a technique that may be used to identify thermal transitions in a polymer. Thermal transitions include, for example, crystallization and melting. A thermal transition in a polymer may be endothermic (sample absorbs heat) or exothermic (sample expels heat). Glass and melting transitions are exothermic and crystallization is endothermic.
  • In a typical DSC run, a polymer sample is heated at a constant rate. The heat inflow or outflow into the sample is controlled to keep the heating rate constant. When the sample undergoes a thermal transition, heat is either absorbed or expelled. At the glass transition and melting transition, heat flow into the sample decreases. When a polymer sample crystallizes, the heat flow into the sample increases.
  • The Tg of PLLA tubes was studied at 300% and 500% radial expansion. DSC runs were performed for two samples for each degree of expansion. For 500% radial expansion PLLA tubing was extruded to an ID of 0.021 in and an OD of 0.072 in. For 300% radial expansion, PLLA tubing was extruded to an ID of 0.018 in and an OD of 0.056 in. The extruded tubing was radially expanded using blow molding.
  • FIG. 9 depicts the results of DSC runs for samples expanded to 300%. Curve 900 corresponds to the first sample and curve 905 corresponds to the second sample. Troughs 901 and 906 depict the glass transition, which is about 62° C. in each case. In addition, peaks 902 and 907 correspond to the crystallization transition of the polymer for the first and second samples, respectively.
  • The melted samples at the end of each run were quenched to a solid form. DSC runs were then performed on the quenched samples for comparison. These samples correspond to PLLA without induced orientation. Curve 910 corresponds to the first sample and curve 915 corresponds to the second sample.
  • FIG. 10 depicts the results of DSC runs for samples expanded to 500%. Curve 1000 corresponds to the first sample and curve 1005 corresponds to the second sample. Troughs 1001 and 1006 depict the glass transition, which is about 71° C. in each case. Curves 1000 and 1005 do not have peaks analogous to peaks 902 and 907 in FIG. 9. This indicates that polymer of the samples expanded 500% was completely or almost completely crystallized due to stress induced crystallization. The high crystallinity reduces physical aging. The melted samples at the end of each run were quenched to a solid form. DSC runs were then performed on the quenched samples for comparison. These samples correspond to PLLA without induced orientation. Curve 1010 corresponds to the first sample and curve 1015 corresponds to the second sample.
  • Thus, the Tg increased from 62° C. to 71° C. from 300% to 500% radial expansion. A stent fabricated from a tube expanded 500% was crimped at 50° C. without strut fracture. Also, it is expected that the increase in Tg allows for an increase in storage temperature.
  • Polymers can be biostable, bioabsorbable, biodegradable or bioerodable. Biostable refers to polymers that are not biodegradable. The terms biodegradable, bioabsorbable, and bioerodable are used interchangeably and refer to polymers that are capable of being completely degraded and/or eroded when exposed to bodily fluids such as blood and can be gradually resorbed, absorbed, and/or eliminated by the body. The processes of breaking down and eventual absorption and elimination of the polymer can be caused by, for example, hydrolysis, metabolic processes, bulk or surface erosion, and the like.
  • It is understood that after the process of degradation, erosion, absorption, and/or resorption has been completed, no part of the stent will remain or in the case of coating applications on a biostable scaffolding, no polymer will remain on the device. In some embodiments, very negligible traces or residue may be left behind. For stents made from a biodegradable polymer, the stent is intended to remain in the body for a duration of time until its intended function of, for example, maintaining vascular patency and/or drug delivery is accomplished.
  • Representative examples of polymers that may be used to fabricate or coat an implantable medical device include, but are not limited to, poly(N-acetylglucosamine) (Chitin), Chitosan, poly(hydroxyvalerate), poly(lactide-co-glycolide), poly(hydroxybutyrate), poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-valerate), polyorthoester, polyanhydride, poly(glycolic acid), poly(glycolide), poly(L-lactic acid), poly(L-lactide), poly(D,L-lactic acid), poly(D,L-lactide), poly(caprolactone), poly(trimethylene carbonate), polyester amide, poly(glycolic acid-co-trimethylene carbonate), co-poly(ether-esters) (e.g. PEO/PLA), polyphosphazenes, biomolecules (such as fibrin, fibrinogen, cellulose, starch, collagen and hyaluronic acid), polyurethanes, silicones, polyesters, polyolefins, polyisobutylene and ethylene-alphaolefin copolymers, acrylic polymers and copolymers other than polyacrylates, vinyl halide polymers and copolymers (such as polyvinyl chloride), polyvinyl ethers (such as polyvinyl methyl ether), polyvinylidene halides (such as polyvinylidene chloride), polyacrylonitrile, polyvinyl ketones, polyvinyl aromatics (such as polystyrene), polyvinyl esters (such as polyvinyl acetate), acrylonitrile-styrene copolymers, ABS resins, polyamides (such as Nylon 66 and polycaprolactam), polycarbonates, polyoxymethylenes, polyimides, polyethers, polyurethanes, rayon, rayon-triacetate, cellulose, cellulose acetate, cellulose butyrate, cellulose acetate butyrate, cellophane, cellulose nitrate, cellulose propionate, cellulose ethers, and carboxymethyl cellulose. Another type of polymer based on poly(lactic acid) that can be used includes graft copolymers, and block copolymers, such as AB block-copolymers (“diblock-copolymers”) or ABA block-copolymers (“triblock-copolymers”), or mixtures thereof.
  • Additional representative examples of polymers that may be especially well suited for use in fabricating or coating an implantable medical device include ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (commonly known by the generic name EVOH or by the trade name EVAL), poly(butyl methacrylate), poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluororpropene) (e.g., SOLEF 21508, available from Solvay Solexis PVDF, Thorofare, N.J.), polyvinylidene fluoride (otherwise known as KYNAR, available from ATOFINA Chemicals, Philadelphia, Pa.), ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers, and polyethylene glycol.
  • The manufacturing process of a bioabsorbable polymer stent or scaffold includes making a polymer tube from a polymer resin, processing to increase strength, laser cutting the tube to form a stent pattern in the expanded tube, crimping the scaffold over a catheter, packaging, sterilization (e.g., e-beam exposure). The processing to increase strength includes heating the polymer tube between Tg and Tm or tube expansion between Tg and Tm. The process can further include placement of radiopaque markers in or on the scaffold after laser cutting and before crimping. Additionally, a coating of a polymer and drug may be formed over the scaffold after laser cutting.
  • The microstructure or morphology of the polymer changes as it proceeds through the manufacturing process. Specifically, the microstructure changes when the tube is heated and radially expanded and when the scaffold is crimped. Additionally, the microstructure changes when the scaffold is deployed or expanded from a crimped configuration. As discussed herein, the microstructure includes the degree of crystallinity of the polymer, polymer crystallite and polymer chain orientation in the circumferential direction, and the degree of orientation. The microstructure further includes the type of crystalline forms and the relative amount of crystalline forms.
  • Crystallization of polymers is a process associated with partial alignment of their molecular chains. These chains fold together and form ordered regions called lamellae, which in turn assemble into larger structures. Orientation of lamellae results in birefringence producing a variety of colored patterns when specimens are viewed between crossed polarizers in an optical microscope. Orientation can refer to orientation of polymer chains within lamellae, orientation of a crystal lamella or a larger assembly of lamellae, or orientation of polymer chains in an amorphous region. The orientation of one or any of these can be random (isotropic) or can be preferentially oriented (anisotropic).
  • FIG. 11 depicts a tube illustrating the cylindrical coordinate system for a tube or scaffold geometry useful for characterizing spatial variation in microstructure properties. R refers to the radial direction, θ refers to the azimuthal (or circumferential) direction, and Z is the longitudinal or axial direction. Polymer crystal orientation of a tube or a scaffold can be characterized as being in the azimuthal or axial directions. As described herein, radial expansion of a polymer tube including a polymer such as PLLA initially results in higher crystallinity and preferred orientation in the azimuthal direction.
  • During polymer stretching, such as in stretch-blow molding, semi-crystalline polymeric materials can be shaped at temperatures between Tg and Tm. Crystallization and orientation of polymers that occurs during stretching is correlated to the relaxation time of the chains. Reptation refers to the thermal motion of polymer chains in an entangled state. When the draw ratio rate is slower than the rate of polymer chain reptation, no oriented crystallization is observed. At high strain rates, chain deformation is faster than the rate of chain relaxation, which promotes chain orientation. When the chain orientation reaches the critical value that accelerates crystal nucleation, crystallization occurs and proceeds faster than the chain relaxation can occur.
  • Cavitation that can occur during deformation can alter the structure transformation of crystals. With increasing deformation, cavities change in size, number and orientation. It has been shown that stretching PLLA initially results in higher crystallinity and preferred orientation. However, at high strain rates voids and cavities appear and grow [Zhang et al. Polymer 52 (2011) 4141-4149].
  • Depending on processing conditions (temperature and strain), PLLA exists in four different crystalline forms: α, α′, β and γ. It has been shown that α′ can transform to the α phase through an irreversible process because α is a more stable phase [Kalish et al. Polymer 52 (2011) 814-821]. The formation of α and α′ crystal structures in PLLA have been described in Zhang et al. Macromol. Symp. 242 (2006) 274-278 and Stoclet et al. 43 Macromolecules (2010) 1488-1498. Little is known about the effect of strain and temperature on microstructure, particularly below Tg, as in the crimping and deployment of a PLLA-based scaffold, on the transformation from α′ to α.
  • The change in the polymer microstructure was studied for the expanded tube, as-cut scaffold, crimped scaffold, and deployed scaffold. The samples studied were made of PLLA. The degree of crystallinity and crystalline microstructure of the polymer depend on the thermal and deformation history during processing. In turn, the semicrystalline morphology determines strength and biodegradation. Techniques were used to provide spatially-resolved information about the resulting polymer microstructure. The techniques used to characterize the polymer were polarized light microscopy (PLM), wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXD), and combined small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and WAXD.
  • Polarized Light Microscopy was used to determine distribution of crystallite orientation within an expanded tube and the scaffold wall. Polarized light microscopy refers to optical microscopy techniques involving illumination of sample with polarized light. These illumination techniques are most commonly used on birefringent samples where the polarized light interacts strongly with the sample and so generates contrast with the background.
  • Birefringence refers to the optical property of a material having a refractive index that depends on the polarization and propagation direction of light. These optically anisotropic materials are said to be birefringent (or birefractive). The birefringence is often quantified as the maximum difference between refractive indices exhibited by the material. Crystals with asymmetric crystal structures are often birefringent as well as plastics under mechanical stress. Optical isotropy means having the same optical properties in all directions. This can mean, e.g., that the crystallites are smaller than the resolution limit, or that the crystallites are randomly oriented relative to each other and therefore have no measurable difference in orientation.
  • Polarized light microscopy is capable of distinguishing between isotropic and anisotropic substances. There are two polarizing filters in a polarizing microscope termed the polarizer and analyzer. The Michel-Levy Chart arises when polarized white light is passed through a birefringent sample. FIG. 12 depicts the Michel-Levy chart that includes interference colors that describe optical retardance due to crystallite orientation.
  • Retardance refers to the difference in phase shift between two characteristic polarizations of light upon reflection from an interface. The silver at the far left indicates very little orientation and the sequence of colors from right to left reveals increasing orientation. The variation in the sequence from left to right may also indicate variation in crystallinity.
  • PLM micrographs were acquired by placing sections of the tube or scaffold between crossed polars of a Carl Zeiss microscope. The birefringence variation across the sections is due to the combination of preferentially oriented amorphous and oriented crystalline material.
  • Synchrotron X-ray scattering provides information about crystalline morphology with high spatial resolution. It can provide information about the amount of crystallinity, crystal morph, and the crystal orientation at very small length scales. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) reveals information about structure in the nanoscale whereas wide-angle scattering or diffraction (WAXS or WAXD) gives us information in the unit cell (angstrom) scale.
  • WAXD was used to determine crystal structures, quantify degree of crystallinity, and characterize the orientation distribution of crystallites. Beam spot size varies depending on synchrotron source; spot size enables measurements of different spatial resolution: (1) Advanced Light Source (ALS), Lawrence Berkeley Lab: 200 μm×100 μm; (2) Advanced Photon Source (APS); (3) Argonne National Lab: 0.2 μm; and (4) Brookhaven National Lab: 380 μm, 20 μm.
  • SAXS was used to characterize nanoscale arrangement of crystallites. SAXS can be used in combination with WAXD to map crystalline behavior at multiple length scales simultaneously. Simultaneous SAXS/WAXS scattering experiments were performed at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Lab (B). SAXS experiments used a Mar 165 CCD and WAXS used a custom Photonics detector that captured a quadrant of the scattering patterns. The source wavelength, λ, was 0.92 Å and the beam spot size was 20 μm. The simultaneous SAXS and WAXS data provide information about crystallinity and nano-scale arrangement at a specific position.
  • The tube and scaffold samples in the microstructure studies were made from a PLLA resin obtained from Evonik. The tube samples for the scaffolds are formed by extrusion. In the radial expansion, tubes were heated above the Tg of the polymer. The temperature range of the heating is 75-120° C., with an infra-red lamp and is expanded with pressurized air within a glass mold. Percent radial expansion ((IDexp/ID original−1)×100%) was 400% and percent axial elongation ((Lexp/Loriginal)−1)×100%) was 20 to 25%. The expanded tubes were laser cut to form the scaffold samples. The fabricated or uncrimped outer diameter (OD) of the scaffold samples was 3.5 mm.
  • FIG. 13A depicts an image of the sample scaffold 700. Scaffold 700 includes struts having an outer or abluminal surface that contacts a vessel wall when deployed, an inner or luminal surface that faces a vessel lumen when deployed, and sidewalls or sidewall surfaces between the abluminal and luminal surfaces. FIG. 13B depicts an enlarged image of the scaffold 700 of FIG. 13A illustrating the structure. The scaffold includes circumferential rings 702 connected by linking struts or bar arms 704. FIG. 13C depicts a further enlarged image of scaffold 700 of FIG. 13A illustrating the structure of the rings. The rings include bending elements that include strut sections or bar arms 712 and 714 that meet at a crest 706. Crest 706 is a free crest, meaning that it is not directly connected to any linking strut. The scaffold also includes W crests (e.g., crest 710) and Y crests (e.g., crest 708). Y crests are connected to a linking strut at an outer convex portion of the crest and a W crest is connected to a linking strut at an inner concave portion of the crest. The bending elements bend inward (e.g., strut sections 712 and 714 bend toward each other) when the scaffold is crimped and bend outward (i.e., strut sections 712 and 714 bend away from each other) when the scaffold is deployed or expanded from a crimped configuration. FIG. 13D depicts a further enlarged image of scaffold 700 of FIG. 13A illustrating the structure of a crest. A crest has an outer side, bend or edge 716 and an inner, side, bend or edge 718.
  • The scaffold samples were crimped at a temperature of about 48° C. onto a collapsed 3 mm balloon to between 0.051 to 0.055 in OD. The crimped scaffolds were e-beam sterilized and were pre-soaked for two minutes in 37° C. water prior to being deployed to 3 mm ID by expanding the balloon. FIGS. 14A-D depict an expanded tube, a laser cut scaffold, a crimped scaffold, and a deployed scaffold, respectively.
  • Sections for analysis by PLM and x-ray scattering were taken from the sample expanded tube and scaffold at various stages of the manufacturing process: as-cut, crimped, and deployed scaffolds. Sections were created to probe crystal structure and orientation as a function of radial (R) and azimuthal (θ) position. The spatial resolution of microstructure of the expanded tube was studied in the radial direction and the azimuthal direction.
  • During the expansion process the tube experiences both thermal nonuniformity and strain nonuniformity. The thermal nonuniformities are due to differences in thermal heating arising from the various mechanisms of heat transfer including radiation, conduction, and convection. The strain nonuniformity is illustrated in FIG. 15. FIG. 15 depicts a tube prior to radial expansion 600 and the tube after radial expansion 600. In the tube after expansion, the strain in the radial direction increases from the outside surface 602 o (least strain) to the inside surface 602 i (most strain). Each of the circular color bands in the tube prior to radial expansion 600 are the same radial thickness. In the tube after radial expansion 602, the thickness of the color bands decreases between the outside surface 602 o to the inside surface 602 i. Strain nonuniformity may also arise in the azimuthal direction due to thermal nonuniformities.
  • The spatial resolution of microstructure of the expanded tube in the radial direction was obtained from radial sections of an as-cut scaffold sample. The radial thickness of the expanded tube used to generate the as-cut scaffold was about 160 microns. The radial sections cut from the axial section were 10 to 15 microns thick from the outside diameter (OD) to the inside diameter (ID).
  • The radial sections were studied with PLM. A gradient in birefringence within the scaffold wall is seen in the PLM images. Sequential sections from OD to the ID show a transition from optically isotropic to birefringent at approximately 100 microns from the OD which is about ⅔ of the wall thickness. FIG. 17 depicts PLM images of three radial sections between the OD and the ID of the tube. Sections 2 and 7 show optical isotropy and section 9 shows birefringence. The optical isotropy indicates that there is no induced orientation from the radial expansion in this radial section. The birefringence of the inner radial section indicates induced polymer crystalline orientation.
  • It is believed that the absence of crystal orientation in the outer radial section may be due in part to the significant difference in radial strain experienced between ID and OD of the extruded tubing during expansion, as illustrated in FIG. 15.
  • It is believed that the absence of crystal orientation in the outer radial section may be due in part to the contact of the outer surface of the expanded tube with the heated glass mold when the tube is expanded. Contact with the mold may result in greater heat transfer into the polymer at the tube outer surface which allows for faster relaxation of polymer chains in the radial section closest to the mold.
  • It is believed that the processing conditions of the radial expansion process may be modified to vary the radial location of the gradient or transition of optically isotropic to birefringence or unoriented to oriented crystal structure. For example, the process may be modified so that the tube or struts have induced molecular orientation in a region greater than ⅓ or greater than ½ of the radial thickness from the inner surface with no induced orientation beyond the ⅓ or ½ of the radial thickness.
  • Azimuthal sections of the expanded tube samples were examined with PLM and WAXD to assess the azimuthal variation in microstructure. WAXD was also used to assess the type of crystal structure. Azimuthal sections were prepared from a ring cut from expanded tubing which was cut into five azimuthal sections. The WAXD experiments were done at the ALS, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. FIG. 16 depicts a radial cross-section of a ring cut from an expanded tube 610 having an inner surface 612 and outer surface 614. The ring is cut into five azimuthal sections 1 to 5 delineated by lines 616.
  • FIG. 18 depicts the 2-D WAXD patterns of the intensity vs. q vector of the five azimuthal sections of FIG. 16. FIG. 18 shows that the degree and the direction of orientation of the crystallites is consistent, indicating azimuthal uniformity. Degree of orientation is a function of diffraction spot size, while direction is a function of diffraction spot location. The plot also shows the relative proportions of crystalline to amorphous domains by characterizing the relative peak heights and the amorphous background halo, which is the very broad peak of a diffraction pattern due to amorphous domains.
  • FIG. 18 further shows that only α′ crystal structure is detectable in the crystallites of the sections of tube. FIG. 19 shows a 1-D WAXD pattern from the literature showing differences between α and α′ crystal structures. Macromolecules, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2010.
  • The WAXD patterns of the azimuthal sections further show azimuthal uniformity of the α′ crystal structure. FIG. 20 shows 2-D and 1-D WAXD patterns, of the sections 1 to 5 of FIG. 16 from left to right illustrating the azimuthal uniformity of α′ crystal structure of the expanded tube in terms of consistent diffraction spot size and position.
  • The impact of crimping on the microstructure of the bends or crests of the scaffold was assessed by PLM and WAXD. The PLM images of the crests are radial sections parallel to the luminal and abluminal surfaces that are about 90 to 100 microns from the abluminal surface of the scaffold. Therefore, the radial sections are near or closer to the luminal surface.
  • FIG. 21 depicts a crimped scaffold and two PLM images of radial sections near the luminal surfaces of a free crest and a W crest. When the scaffold is crimped there is significant tension on the outer edge or bend region of a crest and compression at the inner bend or edge region of the crest. The images show high retardance at the outer region of the crests, indicative of strong orientation in the azimuthal direction induced during the crimping process. Therefore, the orientation at the outer edge and region adjacent in the crimped scaffold is higher than the struts which remain undeformed.
  • However, the induced orientation varies between the inner edge and the outer edge of the crest. The images further show a smaller change in orientation or a less significant induced orientation due to crimping at the inner edge and region adjacent of the crests. Therefore, in the crimped scaffold there is an increase in orientation between the inner bend and the outer bend of the crimped scaffold, as evidenced by the increase in retardance when moving from the inner bend to the outer bend in the PLM image
  • It is believed that high retardance at or adjacent to the outer edge of the crest may be due to one or more of induced orientation of amorphous polymer, reoriented crystallites, and new crystallites induced during the deformation of the crimping process.
  • WAXD patterns of a radial section of a free crest were obtained at four locations of a radial section: the inner edge, outer edge, and two locations between the inner edge and outer edge of the crest. FIGS. 22A-22D depict the WAXD patterns of the locations between the outer edge and the inner edge, respectively. FIGS. 22A-D show an increase in local crystallinity and degree of orientation moving from the inner edge to the outer edge. No induced orientation was observed for the pattern at the inner edge, however, induced orientation was observed in the three other patterns. Additionally, the WAXD patterns show that there was no change in α′ crystal structure induced by the crimping.
  • Additionally, shear or yield bands are detectable from the PLM images at or adjacent to the inner edge of the crimped scaffold, in particular for the W crest in FIG. 21. A shear band (or a strain localization or localized deformation) is a narrow zone of intense shearing strain, usually of plastic nature, developing during severe deformation of a material. Shear bands are observed in ductile materials and are not typically observable in brittle materials (for instance a polymer below its Tg). The shear banding phenomena may precede failure, since extreme deformations occurring within shear bands may lead to damage and fracture. The inner edge has fissures or crazing at the inner edge of the crest visible on the sidewalls of the inner edge of the crest.
  • The PLM images further show that the chain axis orientation and degree of orientation are dependent on position relative to inner and outer crests. The optical path difference is higher near the outer edge of the crest relative to the inner edge. While both are birefringent, the stronger signal near the outer edge implies more highly oriented material in this region.
  • FIGS. 23A-D depict images of samples of an expanded tube, as-cut scaffold, crimped scaffold, and deployed scaffold with an overlay of the initial (tube and as-cut scaffold) azimuthal chain orientation (arrows) and the WAXD reflection orientation of 200/110 crystal (dumbbells). As shown, when the scaffold is crimped and deployed the polymer chain orientation and WAXS diffraction spot positions change relative to the longitudinal axis of the scaffold. Therefore, the direction of the observed orientation depends on the state of the scaffold: as-cut, crimped, or deployed.
  • FIG. 24 depicts PLM images of a W crest of a crimped scaffold at different angles of the polarizer filter between 0° and 70°. To estimate the retardance at a given point the sample is rotated 45° with respect to orientation at which the point appears dark. For the white oval, extinction takes place with the polarizers at about 45°. The retardance is thus determined by the image taken with the polarizers in line with each other, with the angle of 0°. The link strut extending from the inner edge is not deformed during crimping, and therefore, has the same orientation as the expanded tube and the uncrimped scaffold. Its retardance does not change with rotation of the polarizing filters.
  • FIG. 25 depicts region 650 in FIG. 24 in detail. The region in the oval from region 650 in FIG. 24 has a principal axis at 45° relative to the polarizers. The color bands from the Michel-Levy color scale shown are assigned to the color bands that radiate from the inner edge to the outer edge of the crest, which is from the upper left to the lower right of FIG. 25.
  • The impact of deployment on the microstructure of the bends or crests of the scaffold was examined by PLM and WAXD. FIG. 26 depicts a deployed scaffold and a PLM image of luminal sections of a free crest and 2-D WAXD patterns from locations along the outer edge or bend of the crest between the strut sections that meet at the crest. When the scaffold is deployed there is compression on the outer or convex edge of the crest and tension at the inner or concave edge of the crest.
  • The 2-D WAXD patterns of FIG. 26 show azimuthal orientation changes, i.e., increases, between the strut sections and high stress regions on the outer edge of the crest. The combination of the PLM image and the 2-D WAXD patterns shows the consistency of orientation within a color band. The images show that deployment does not induce a change in orientation within strut sections and that the outer crest retains the high degree of orientation induced by crimping. The outer crests are under compression, but the material in this region has developed properties of low compressibility and higher stiffness due to the increased orientation making it harder to deform. No crazing or fracture was observed at the outer edge of the crest in the crimped or deployed states. It is believed that the highly oriented polymer at and adjacent to the outer edge acts as a barrier to crack propagation to the outer edge.
  • As indicated above, the crimped scaffold exhibits crazing or has craze regions at the inner edge of the crests. When the scaffold is deployed, it is believed that tension on inner crests is relieved by the surface craze regions which grow into “diamond-shaped voids” during deployment. Polymer at the inner crest is still weakly oriented, however, highly oriented fibrils form within the crazed regions upon deployment.
  • As indicated above, WAXD patterns show that there was no change in α′ crystal structure induced by the crimping. Additionally, there was no change in α′ crystal structure induced by the deployment. α′ crystal structure is less ordered than α′ crystal structure, therefore, it is believed that α′ crystal structure has a higher resistance to fracture due to the ability of the disordered lattice to dissipate stress. It is believed that resistance to failure on deployment is enhanced by the presence of α′ rather than a crystal structure in the outer crest.
  • FIG. 27 depicts the PLM image of FIG. 26 showing a larger portion of the crest and strut sections. Arrows 1, 2, and 3 show the path of the WAXD microdiffraction beam for three scans. Due to beam damage, the beam path looking at the sample under the microscope Can be observed. Line scan 1 is from a region of low retardance to high retardance. Line scan 2 is along the outer edge of the crest where crimping induces very high retardance. Line scan 3 is the reverse of scan 1, from high to low retardance. The PLM image shows the chain orientation (arrow) and the WAXD reflection orientation of 200/110 crystal (dumbbell).
  • FIG. 28 depicts the PLM image of the FIG. 26 and 2-D WAXD patterns showing weakly oriented PLLA in the inner edge of the crest adjacent to highly oriented fibrils within a craze.
  • FIG. 29A depicts close-up view of the PLM image of the inner edge of FIG. 28 with a 50 micron region delineated. FIG. 29B depicts a grid of sections of the delineated region of FIG. 29A scanned by WAXD. Sections 97 is included in FIG. 29 showing the two diffraction spots of weakly oriented crystals. Section 22 represents a fibrillated craze and the diffraction pattern in FIG. 29 shows many pairs of diffraction spots consistent with randomly oriented fibrils.
  • FIG. 30 depicts an SEM image of a deployed scaffold and an SEM image at a higher resolution of the cross-section of an inner edge of a crest. The high resolution image shows a diamond-shaped void region and fibrils within a crazed region.
  • The examples and experimental data set forth above are for illustrative purposes only and are in no way meant to limit the invention. The following examples are given to aid in understanding the invention, but it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the particular materials or procedures of examples.
  • U.S. Patent Publication Nos. 2007/0282433, 2011/0270383, 2008/0275537 are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • While particular embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications can be made without departing from this invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the appended claims are to encompass within their scope all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of this invention.

Claims (1)

What is claimed is:
1. A stent comprising a cylindrically aligned bending element formed by a first bar arm and a second bar arm, the angle between the bar arms being greater than about 90°, wherein the stent is fabricated from a tube radially expanded by at least about 400%.
US13/998,194 2004-07-26 2013-10-09 Biodegradable stent with enhanced fracture toughness Abandoned US20140107761A1 (en)

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US10/899,948 US20060020330A1 (en) 2004-07-26 2004-07-26 Method of fabricating an implantable medical device with biaxially oriented polymers
US10/956,910 US8778256B1 (en) 2004-09-30 2004-09-30 Deformation of a polymer tube in the fabrication of a medical article
US11/413,220 US8747878B2 (en) 2006-04-28 2006-04-28 Method of fabricating an implantable medical device by controlling crystalline structure
US11/443,947 US7971333B2 (en) 2006-05-30 2006-05-30 Manufacturing process for polymetric stents
US11/444,596 US8747879B2 (en) 2006-04-28 2006-05-31 Method of fabricating an implantable medical device to reduce chance of late inflammatory response
US11/454,968 US7731890B2 (en) 2006-06-15 2006-06-15 Methods of fabricating stents with enhanced fracture toughness
US12/001,777 US8268228B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2007-12-11 Method of fabricating stents from blow molded tubing
US8610008P true 2008-08-04 2008-08-04
US9561708P true 2008-09-09 2008-09-09
US12/424,484 US8012402B2 (en) 2008-08-04 2009-04-15 Tube expansion process for semicrystalline polymers to maximize fracture toughness
US12/490,248 US8597716B2 (en) 2009-06-23 2009-06-23 Methods to increase fracture resistance of a drug-eluting medical device
US12/558,105 US20110066222A1 (en) 2009-09-11 2009-09-11 Polymeric Stent and Method of Making Same
US12/559,400 US8501079B2 (en) 2009-09-14 2009-09-14 Controlling crystalline morphology of a bioabsorbable stent
US12/772,698 US8323329B2 (en) 2006-06-15 2010-05-03 Stents with enhanced fracture toughness
US12/845,536 US8658081B2 (en) 2006-06-15 2010-07-28 Methods of fabricating stents with enhanced fracture toughness
US12/806,785 US8192678B2 (en) 2004-07-26 2010-08-19 Method of fabricating an implantable medical device with biaxially oriented polymers
US13/112,960 US20110224778A1 (en) 2006-05-30 2011-05-20 Stent pattern for polymeric stents
US13/192,315 US8303296B2 (en) 2008-08-04 2011-07-27 Polymer tube expansion apparatus to maximize fracture toughness
US13/463,562 US8715564B2 (en) 2004-07-26 2012-05-03 Method of fabricating an implantable medical device with biaxially oriented polymers
US13/597,161 US8658082B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2012-08-28 Method of fabricating stents from blow molded tubing
US13/631,061 US8828305B2 (en) 2008-08-04 2012-09-28 Tube expansion processes for semicrystalline polymers to maximize fracture toughness
US13/734,879 US9211682B2 (en) 2009-09-14 2013-01-04 Controlling crystalline morphology of a bioabsorbable stent
US13/998,194 US20140107761A1 (en) 2004-07-26 2013-10-09 Biodegradable stent with enhanced fracture toughness
US13/998,199 US9517149B2 (en) 2004-07-26 2013-10-09 Biodegradable stent with enhanced fracture toughness

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