Synthetic biodegradable polymers offer an alternative to the use of autografts, allografts, and nondegradable materials for bone replacement. They can be synthesized with tailored mechanical and degradative properties. They also can be processed to porous scaffolds with desired pore morphologic features conducive to tissue ingrowth. Moreover, functionalized polymers can modulate cellular function and induce tissue ingrowth. This review focuses on four classes of polymers that hold promise for orthopaedic applications: poly alpha-hydroxy esters, polyphosphazenes, polyanhydrides, and polypropylene fumarate crosslinked networks.

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