Poly(Vinyl Alcohol) Cryogels for Biomedical Applications

  • Wankei WanEmail author
  • A. Dawn Bannerman
  • Lifang Yang
  • Helium Mak
Part of the Advances in Polymer Science book series (POLYMER, volume 263)


Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) is a hydrophilic and biocompatible polymer that can be crosslinked to form a hydrogel. When physically crosslinked using a freeze–thaw cycling process, the product hydrogel or cryogel (PVA-C) possesses unique mechanical properties that can be tuned to closely match those of soft tissues, thus making it an attractive candidate for biomedical and especially medical device applications. We review the freeze–thaw cycling process and processing parameters that impact on the properties of PVA-C and its nanocomposite products. Both the mechanical properties and diffusion properties relevant to biomedical application are discussed. Applications to orthopedic and cardiovascular devices are summarized and discussed. The concept of biomaterial–tissue hybrids that can impart the necessary hemocompatibility to PVA-C for cardiovascular device is introduced and demonstrated.


Poly(vinyl alcohol) Physical crosslinking Cryogel Medical device Controlled release 

List of Abbreviations


Bacterial cellulose


Bovine serum albumin


Dimethyl sulfoxide


Degree of polymerization


Young’s modulus


Fluorescein isothiocyanate




Freeze–thaw cycle


Water insoluble chitosan


Intervertebral disc




Nucleus pulposus




Poly(ethylene glycol)


Poly(vinyl alcohol)


Poly(vinyl alcohol) cryogel


Poly(vinyl alcohol) bacterial cellulose composite


Polyvinyl pyrrolidone


Arginyl-glycyl-aspartic acid


Small-angle neutron scattering


Transmission electron microscopy


Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene


Unfrozen liquid microphase


Water-soluble chitosan



This work was supported in part by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wankei Wan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • A. Dawn Bannerman
    • 1
  • Lifang Yang
    • 1
  • Helium Mak
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biochemical EngineeringUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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