© 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 28:762–766, 2010

Nano‐scale topography of bearing surface in advanced alumina/zirconia hip joint before and after severe exposure in water vapor environment

Giuseppe Pezzotti Takuma Saito Giuseppina Padeletti Pierluigi Cossari Kengo Yamamoto First published: 14 April 2010

The aim of this study was to perform a surface morphology assessment with nanometer scale resolution on femoral heads made of an advanced zirconia toughened alumina (ZTA) composite. Femoral heads were characterized to a degree of statistical accuracy in the as‐received state and after exposures up to 100 h in severe vapor‐moist environment. Surface screening was made using an atomic force microscope (AFM). Scanning was systematically repeated on portions of surface as large as several tens of micrometers, randomly selected on the head surface, to achieve sufficient statistical reliability without lowering the nanometer‐scale spatial resolution of the roughness measurement. No significant difference was found in the recorded values of surface roughness after environmental exposure (at 134°C, under 2 bar), which was always comparable to that of the as‐received head. Surface roughness safely lay <10 nm after environmental exposures up to 100 h, which corresponded to an exposure time in vivo of several human lifetimes (i.e., according to an experimentally derived thermal activation energy). In addition, the roughness results were significantly (about one order of magnitude) lower as compared to those recorded on femoral heads made of monolithic zirconia tested under the same conditions.

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