Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering


Erik Brewer, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Anthony Lowman, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Gary Thompson, Ph.D.


Biomechanics, Degenerative Disc Disease, Nucleus Pulposus


Spinal implants


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering


Lower back pain effects up to 80% of people at some point in their life, a majority of cases being the result of degenerative disc disease. Treatment options for degenerative disc disease are limited, jumping from physical therapy to major spinal fusion and total disc replacement surgery with little to no approaches in between. Furthermore, surgical treatments have not shown to be more effective than conservative treatments and reducing pain and disability over the long term. Hydrogels have shown promise as a potential nucleus pulposus replacement device. Their properties are controllable and can be implanted into the body through minimally evasive routes. In order to successful act as a minimally invasive nucleus pulposus replacement device, the hydrogel must demonstrate an ability to be easily injectable, cure within the body, and restore mechanics once in place.One potential formulation to complete this task is HYDRAFILTM. HYDRAFILTM is a PVA/PEG based hydrogel designed as a nucleus pulposus replacement device. HYDRAFILTM demonstrates thermosetting properties that can be controlled through the use of thermal cycling and holding the material at elevated temperatures until injection. Through various mechanical tests and thermal analyses, HYDRAFILTM demonstrated the ability to cure within the disc and act as a solid implant. After curing HYDRAFILTM exhibits substantial mechanical strength and desired hydration properties.