Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®: November 2008 - Volume 466 - Issue 11 - p 2798-2805 doi: 10.1007/s11999-008-0470-6

Polyethylene Wear Is Influenced by Manufacturing Technique in Modular TKA

Lombardi, Adolph V. Jr, MD, FACS1,2,3,a; Ellison, Bradley S., MD2; Berend, Keith R., MD1,2,3

Polyethylene insert backside surface wear is implicated in osteolysis and failure of total knee arthroplasty. Manufacturing and sterilization methods reduce articular-sided wear. We questioned whether manufacturing technique influences the severity of backside wear. We examined 39 explanted tibial bearings in a blinded fashion using visual, stereomicroscopic, and scanning electron microscopic techniques. We examined 26 direct compression molded components and 13 nondirect compression molded components and applied a new backside wear severity score. The score characterized the magnitude of the various modes of wear with severity ranging from 0 (no wear) to 27 (severe wear). Time in vivo, tibial baseplate material, and manufacturing technique were used as variables for comparison. Backside wear was related to polyethylene manufacturing process with direct compression molded implants having a wear score of 2.3 and nondirect compression molded a score of 5.7. Time in vivo influenced backside wear, although direct compression molded predicted decreased backside wear independent of time in vivo. The data suggest manufacturing technique influences backside wear in total knee arthroplasty polyethylene inserts.

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