Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. David Puleo


Currently growth plate fractures account for nearly 18.5% of fractures in children and can lead to stunted bone growth or angular deformation. If the body is unable to heal itself a bony bar forms, preventing normal bone growth. Clinical treatment involves removing the bony bar and replacing it with a filler substance, which causes poor results 60% of the time.

Using primarily poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) as the scaffold material, the goal was to develop an implant that would support to the implant site, allow for cell ingrowth, and degrade away over time. Porous scaffolds were fabricated from PLGA microspheres using the salt leaching method. The first part of this work investigated the effect of sintering the microspheres by studying the mechanical properties, degradation and morphology and their potential applications for hard and soft tissue implants. Growth factor or drugs can be encapsulated into PLGA microspheres, which was the second part of this work. Encapsulated insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) was able to withstand the scaffold fabrication process without compromising it’s bioactivity and promoted cell proliferation.

The next part of this work experimented with the addition of a hydrogel porogen. Porogen particles were made using a quick degrading poly(beta-amino ester) (PBAE) hydrogel and loaded with ketoprofen. The addition of the porogen creates a dual drug-releasing scaffold with a localized delivery system.

The final step of this work involved animal studies to determine the effectiveness of the scaffolds in growth plate regeneration and how they compare to the current clinical treatment option. Gross observation, microCT analysis, angular measurement of bone growth and histological methods were employed to evaluate the scaffolds.

The goal was to develop a versatile scaffold that could be used for a wide range of tissue engineering applications. The mechanical properties, degradation profiles and drug delivery capabilities can be all tailored to meet the specific needs of an implant site. One specific application was regenerating the native growth plate that can also encourage the endogenous mesenchymal stem cells to follow the desire linage. By regenerating the native growth plate, angular deformation and stunted limb growth were greatly reduced.