In spite of the large diversity of diagnostic and interventional devices associated with gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures, there is little information on the impact of the biomaterials (metals, polymers) contained in these devices upon body tissues and, indirectly, upon the treatment outcomes. Other biomaterials for gastroenterology, such as adhesives and certain hemostatic agents, have been investigated to a greater extent, but the information is fragmentary. Much of this situation is due to the paucity of details disclosed by the manufacturers of the devices. Moreover, for most of the applications in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, there are no studies available on the biocompatibility of the device materials when in intimate contact with mucosae and other components of the GI tract. We have summarized the current situation with a focus on aspects of biomaterials and biocompatibility related to the device materials and other agents, with an emphasis on the GI endoscopic procedures. Procedures and devices used for the control of bleeding, for polypectomy, in bariatrics, and for stenting are discussed, particularly dwelling upon the biomaterial-related features of each application. There are indications that research is progressing steadily in this field, and the establishment of the subdiscipline of “gastroenterologic biomaterials” is not merely a remote projection. Upon the completion of this article, the gastroenterologist should be able to understand the nature of biomaterials and to achieve a suitable and beneficial perception of their significance in gastroenterology. Likewise, the biomaterialist should become aware of the specific tasks that the biomaterials must fulfil when placed within the GI tract, and regard such applications as both a challenge and an incentive for progressing the research in this field.
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