Bone Joint Res 2017;6:530–534.

A simple method of measuring the wear of explanted acetabular component inserts

L. Krakow, A. Klockow, E. Roehner, S. Brodt, H. Eijer, J. Bossert, G. Matziolis


The determination of the volumetric polyethylene wear on explanted material requires complicated equipment, which is not available in many research institutions. Our aim in this study was to present and validate a method that only requires a set of polyetheretherketone balls and a laboratory balance to determine wear.


The insert to be measured was placed on a balance, and a ball of the appropriate diameter was inserted. The cavity remaining between the ball and insert caused by wear was filled with contrast medium and the weight of the contrast medium was recorded. The volume was calculated from the known density of the liquid. The precision, inter- and intraobserver reliability, were determined by four investigators on four days using nine inserts with specified wear (0.094 ml to 1.626 ml), and the intra-class correlation coefficient was calculated. The feasibility of using this method in routine clinical practice and the time required for measurement were tested on 84 explanted inserts by one investigator.


In order to get the mean for all investigators and determinations, the deviation between the measured and specified wear was -0.08 ml (sd 0.12; -0.21 to 0.11). The interobserver reliability was 0.989 ml (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.964 to 0.997) and the intraobserver reliability was 0.941 for observer 1 (95% CI 0.846 to 0.985), 0.983 for observer 2 (95% CI 0.956 to 0.995), 0.939 for observer 3 (95% CI 0.855 to 0.984), and 0.934 for observer 4 (95% CI 0.790 to 0.984). The mean time required to examine the samples was two minutes (sd 2; 1 to 5).


The method presented here was shown to be sufficiently precise for many settings and is a cost-effective and quick method of determining the volumetric wear of explanted acetabular components. However, the measurement of wear for scientific purposes will probably continue to involve more accurate and dedicated laboratory equipment.

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