How does fluid flow influence drug release from drug filled implants?

David King, Christopher McCormick, Sean McGinty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Drug-filled implants (DFIs) have emerged as an innovative approach to control the delivery of drugs. These devices contain the drug within the structure of the implant itself and avoid the need to include additional drug carrier materials such as a polymers, which are often associated with inflammation and delayed healing/tissue regeneration at the implant site. One common feature of in vitro experiments to generate drug release profiles is stirring or agitation of the release medium. However, the influence of the resulting fluid flow on the rate of drug release from DFIs has yet to be quantified. In this paper we consider two DFIs, which although similar in shape and size, employ different strategies to control the release of drug: a porous pin with pores on the order of μm and a pin drilled with orifices of the order of mm. We develop a multiphysics mathematical model of drug release from these DFIs, subject to fluid flow induced through stirring and show that fluid flow greatly influences the drug release profile for the orifice pin, but that the porous pin drug release profile is relatively insensitive to flow. We demonstrate that drug release from the porous pin may adequately be described through a simplified radial 1D dissolution-diffusion model, while a 3D dissolution-advection-diffusion model is required to describe drug release from the orifice pin. A sensitivity analysis reveals that that the balance of reaction-advection-diffusion in terms of key nondimensional numbers governs the overall drug release. Our findings potentially have important implications in terms of devising the most relevant experimental protocol for quantifying drug release from DFIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-40
Number of pages16
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022


  • fluid dynamics
  • drug filled implants (DFIs)
  • drug release
  • mathematical modelling
  • porous implants


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