Acta Orthopaedica, 86:5, 563-568, DOI: 10.3109/17453674.2015.1054255

Precision of radiostereometric analysis (RSA) of acetabular cup stability and polyethylene wear improved by adding tantalum beads to the liner

Audrey K Nebergall, Kevin Rader, Henrik Palm, Henrik Malchau & Meridith E Greene

Background and purpose — In traditional radiostereometric analysis (RSA), 1 segment defines both the acetabular shell and the polyethylene liner. However, inserting beads into the polyethylene liner permits employment of the shell and liner as 2 separate segments, enabling distinct analysis of the precision of 3 measurement methods in determining femoral head penetration and shell migration.

Patients and methods — The UmRSA program was used to analyze the double examinations of 51 hips to determine if there was a difference in using the shell-only segment, the liner-only segment, or the shell + liner segment to measure wear and acetabular cup stability. The standard deviation multiplied by the critical value (from a t distribution) established the precision of each method.

Results — Due to the imprecision of the automated edge detection, the shell-only method was least desirable. The shell + liner and liner-only methods had a precision of 0.115 mm and 0.086 mm, respectively, when measuring head penetration. For shell migration, the shell + liner had a precision of 0.108 mm, which was better than the precision of the shell-only method. In both the penetration and migration analyses, the shell + liner condition number was statistically significantly lower and the bead count was significantly higher than for the other methods.

Interpretation — Insertion of beads in the polyethylene improves the precision of femoral head penetration and shell migration measurements. A greater dispersion and number of beads when combining the liner with the shell generated more reliable results in both analyses, by engaging a larger portion of the radiograph.

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