• sterilization;
  • Biomaterials;
  • polymer degradation;
  • polyurethane

With the continuous and expanding use of implantable biomaterials in a clinical setting, this study aims to elucidate the influence of sterilization techniques on the material surface and bulk properties of two polyurethane nanocomposite biomaterials. Both solid samples and porous membranes of nondegradable polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane poly(carbonate-urea) urethane (POSS-PCU) and a biodegradable poly(caprolactone-urea) urethane (POSS-PCL) were examined. Sterilization techniques included conventional steam sterilization (autoclaving), gamma irradiation, and disinfection via incubating with ethanol (EtOH) for 10 min or 24 h. After treatment, the samples were examined using gel permeation chromatography (GPC), attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and tensiometry. Cytotoxicity was evaluated through the culture of endothelial progenitor cells and the efficacy of sterilization method was determined by incubating each sample in tryptone soya broth and fluid thioglycollate medium for cultivation of microorganisms. Although EtOH did not affect the material properties in any form, the samples were found to be nonsterile with microbial growth detected on each of the samples. Gamma irradiation was not only effective in sterilizing both POSS-PCU and POSS-PCL but also led to minor material degradation and displayed a cytotoxic effect on the cultured cells. Autoclaving was found to be the optimal sterilization technique for both solid and porous membranes of the nondegradable POSS-PCU samples as it was successful in sterilizing the samples, displayed no cytotoxic side effects and did not degrade the material. However, the biodegradable POSS-PCL was not able to withstand the harsh environment during autoclaving, resulting in it losing all structural integrity. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater 101B: 1182–1190, 2013.