The Knee, ISSN: 0968-0160, Vol: 16, Issue: 2, Page: 101-108

Implant fixation in knee replacement: Preliminary in vitro comparison of ceramic and metal cemented femoral components

Cristofolini, Luca; Affatato, Saverio; Erani, Paolo; Tigani, Domenico; Viceconti, Marco

Improved wear resistance in total knee replacement (TKR) is a suitable goal. Whereas the use of metal components is well established, mechanical loosening in recently introduced ceramic components are a cause of concern. The scope of this work was to test in vitro whether ceramic TKR femoral components are more prone to mechanical loosening than metal ones. Composite femurs were implanted with commercially available TKR metal components, and with ceramic components having identical shape to the metal ones. Implanted femurs were tested on a knee simulator for up to 5 × 10 –6 cycles. Inducible micromotions and permanent migrations were recorded throughout the test. The cement layers were inspected for signs of damage or fracture. Micromotions and migrations were similar for metal and ceramic components: their magnitude and trend over time indicated that no implant was becoming loose. When there were statistically significant differences, the ceramic components were more stable than the metal ones. When the cement layers were inspected, a few short cracks were observed; most such cracks appeared during the first cycles, while no further damage occurred in the rest of the test. The type of damage found for both the metal and the ceramic components is compatible with well-fixed implants after long-term cycling. Altogether, no remarkable difference was found between the metal and ceramic components. Therefore, this study rejects the hypothesis that ceramic TKR femoral components are more prone to mechanical loosening. Although this study had a limited sample size, it provides novel pre-clinical indications about the potential of ceramic TKR femoral components.

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