Lumbar fusion surgery has grown in popularity as a solution to lower back pain. Surgical site infection (SSI) is a serious complication of spinal surgery, affecting as high as 8.5% of the patient population. If the SSI cannot be eradicated with intravenous antibiotics, the next step is second surgery, which increases the cost imposed on the patient and extends recovery time. An implantable ultrasound-triggered polyether ether ketone device for the dispersal of antibiotics has been developed as a potential solution. In this study, the device was constructed of bioabsorbable medical grade polymer, enabling gradual degradation, and manufactured via fused filament fabrication (FFF). A novel bioabsorbable filament was manufactured and validated with gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The filament was consistent in molecular weight and thermal properties (p = 0.348 and p = 0.487, respectively). The filament was utilized for FFF of the device. Dimensional accuracy of the device was assessed with μCT analysis. Dimensional differences between the printed device and intended design were minimal. Degradation of raw material, filament, and the device was performed in accordance to ASTM F1635-16 for a month to determine how melting the material impacted the degradation properties. The degradation rate was found to be similar among the samples weeks one through three however, the raw material degraded at a slower rate by the final week (p = 0.039). This study demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing medical grade bioabsorbable polymers in FFF.

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