The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 32, Issue 4, 1186 - 1191

The Relationship Between Polyethylene Wear and Periprosthetic Osteolysis in Total Hip Arthroplasty at 12 Years in a Randomized Controlled Trial Cohort

Broomfield, John A.J. et al.


Polyethylene acetabular components are common in hip arthroplasty. Highly cross-linked polyethylene (HXLPE) has lower wear than ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). Evidence suggests that wear particles induce inflammation causing periprosthetic osteolysis contributing to implant loosening with wear rates of 0.05 mm/y were considered safe. We aimed to compare incidence and volume of periacetabular osteolysis between HXLPE and UHMWPE using computed tomography.


Initially, 54 hips in 53 patients were randomized to HXLPE or UHMWPE acetabular liner. At 10 years, 39 hips in 38 patients remained for the radiostereometric analysis’ demonstrating significantly lower wear in the HXLPE group. At 12 years, 14 hips in 13 patients were lost to follow-up leaving 25 hips for computed tomography assessment. Images were reconstructed to detect osteolysis and where identified, areas were segmented and volumized.


Osteolysis was observed in 8 patients, 7 from the UHMWPE group and only 1 from the HXLPE group (Fisher exact, P = .042). There was no correlation between the amount of polyethylene wear and osteolysis volume; however, the radiostereometric analysis-measured wear rate in patients with osteolysis from both groups was significantly higher than overall average wear rate.


This data demonstrates lower incidence of periacetabular osteolysis in the HXLPE group of a small cohort. Although numbers are too low to estimate causation, in the context of lower wear in the HXLPE group, this finding supports the hypothesis that HXLPE may not elevate osteolysis risk, and hence does not suggest that HXLPE wear particles are more biologically active than those generated by earlier generations of polyethylene.

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