INTRODUCTION: Hydrogels made of acrylamide (AAm), acrylic acid (AAc) and N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm) display outstanding ability of swelling in vitro and this property can be influenced by the composition of the polymers. Our objective was to study the in vivo behavior of hydrogels made of acrylics and their potential role in surgery. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cylinder-shaped hydrogels were implanted under the skin of rats in the dorsal region. In group 1 AAm, in group 2 AAc while in group 3 NIPAAm expanders were applied. The observation period lasted 18 days, during this time the length and the diameter of the hydrogels were measured daily. After removal of the polymers the moisture mass and the rheological parameters were determined. Furthermore, biopsies were taken from adjacent tissues. RESULTS: Expanders achieved the peak of swelling in two weeks. During the observation period their mass significantly increased. NIPAAm polymers demonstrated the highest tendency to retain their preformed shape. Histological analysis revealed that implantation of AAc devices was associated with serious tissue damage while healthy skin was harvested with the other two polymers. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, NIPAAm hydrogel seems to be the most promising candidate for surgical utilization.
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