Pore size distribution (PSD) within porous biomaterials is an important microstructural feature for assessing their biocompatibility, longevity and drug release kinetics. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is the most common method used to obtain the PSD of soft biomaterials. The method is highly invasive and user dependent, since it requires fracturing of the sample and then considers only the small portion that the user had acquired in the image. In the current study we present a novel nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) method as an alternative method for estimation of PSD in soft porous materials. This noninvasive 3-D diffusion NMR method considers the entire volume of the specimen and eliminates the user's need to choose a specific field of view. Moreover, NMR does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation and can potentially have preclinical and clinical uses. The method was applied on four porous 50/50 poly(dl-lactic-co-glycolic acid) bioresorbable films with different porosities, which were created using the freeze-drying of inverted emulsions technique. We show that the proposed NMR method is able to address the main limitations associated with SEM-based PSD estimations by being non-destructive, depicting the full volume of the specimens and not being dependent on the magnification factor. Upon comparison, both methods yielded a similar PSD in the smaller pore size range (1-25 μm), while the NMR-based method provided additional information on the larger pores (25-50 μm).
- Polyglycolic acid
- Pore size distribution
- SEM (scanning electron microscopy)