The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 8 , 2666 - 2670

Residual Byproducts of Peroxide Crosslinked Vitamin E-Blended Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene

Bichara, David A. et al.
Hip Knee


Wear resistance of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is improved via ionizing radiation crosslinking and subsequent high temperature melting for improved toughness. Our group has previously reported that crosslinking can also be achieved chemically using organic peroxides. However, volatile peroxide byproducts are generated during consolidation. The purpose of this study was to quantify elution of volatile peroxide byproducts from UHMWPE before and after in vivo implantation, and to determine their effects on local tissues.


We prepared crosslinked UHMWPE samples with 5 times the nominal concentration of peroxide needed for improved wear resistance. Control samples (not crosslinked), crosslinked samples, and crosslinked high temperature melting samples were implanted subcutaneously in New Zealand white rabbits for 28 days. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to quantify elution of residual peroxide byproducts, and biocompatibility was determined via histological analysis of periprosthetic tissues.


Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy demonstrated elution of residual peroxide byproducts in vivo. No histological differences were observed between tissues in contact with any of the 3 groups of implants; tissues were characterized by fibrosis and a synovial-like lining for all groups.


UHMWPE chemically crosslinked with very high concentration of organic peroxide did not show any detrimental changes to surrounding subcutaneous tissues, further demonstrating feasibility of crosslinking UHMWPE with a peroxide, rather than irradiation, for the potential use of the material as a bearing surface for joint arthroplasty.

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