The effect of oxidative aging on the wear performance of highly crosslinked polyethylene knee inserts under conditions of severe malalignmentJuan C. Hermida Andrew Fischler Clifford W. Colwell Jr. Darryl D. D'Lima
First‐generation crosslinked polyethylene developed for total hip arthroplasty has not gained wide acceptance for knee arthroplasty because of the increased potential for failure under high stresses and the increased risk for oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Sequentially crosslinked polyethylene (SQXL) is a second‐generation crosslinked polyethylene that is reported to reduce the level of free radicals and preserve mechanical properties. Three groups of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene inserts were wear tested after artificial aging as per ASTM F2003: gamma‐irradiated in air (GA‐aged), sequentially crosslinked (SQXL‐aged), and electron‐beam irradiated and remelted (EBeam‐aged). Inserts were tested in an AMTI knee wear simulator under malalignment conditions that were two standard deviations from the mean reported for computer‐navigated and conventionally aligned techniques. GA‐aged inserts delaminated by 500,000 cycles, and were severely damaged after 1 million cycles. None of the highly crosslinked inserts (SQXL‐aged or EBeam‐aged) delaminated or showed any signs of severe wear. Mean wear rate for GA‐aged inserts was 124.6 ± 49.4 mg/million cycles. Mean wear rates for SQXL‐aged and EBeam‐aged inserts were significantly lower (1.74 ± 0.3 and 4.72 ± 0.7, respectively). These results support the low levels of free radicals and preservation of mechanical properties reported in second‐generation crosslinked ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene.