Five-year comparison of wear using oxidised zirconium and cobalt–chrome femoral heads in total hip arthroplastyS. S. Jassim, S. Patel, N. Wardle, J. Tahmassebi, R. Middleton, D. L. Shardlow, A. Stephen, J. Hutchinson, F. S. Haddad
Oxidised zirconium (OxZi) has been developed as an alternative bearing surface for femoral heads in total hip arthroplasty (THA). This study has investigated polyethylene wear, functional outcomes and complications, comparing OxZi and cobalt–chrome (CoCr) as part of a three-arm, multicentre randomised controlled trial. Patients undergoing THA from four institutions were prospectively randomised into three groups. Group A received a CoCr femoral head and highly cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) liner; Group B received an OxZi femoral head and XLPE liner; Group C received an OxZi femoral head and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) liner. At five years, 368 patients had no statistically significant differences in short-form-36 (p = 0.176 mental, p = 0.756 physical), Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (p = 0.847), pain scores (p = 0.458) or complications. The mean rate of linear wear was 0.028 mm/year (standard deviation (sd) 0.010) for Group A, 0.023 mm/year (sd 0.010) for Group B, and 0.09 mm/year (sd 0.045) for Group C. Penetration was significantly higher in the UHMWPE liner group compared with both XLPE liner groups (p < 0.001) but no significant difference was noted between CoCr and OxZi when articulating with XLPE (p = 0.153). In this, the largest randomised study of this bearing surface, it appears that using a XLPE acetabular liner is more important in reducing THA component wear than the choice of femoral head bearing, at mid-term follow-up. There is a non-significant trend towards lower wear, coupling OxZi rather than CoCr with XLPE but long-term analysis is required to see if this observation changes with time and becomes significant.