© 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 28:1120–1126, 2010

Wear, delamination, and fatigue resistance of melt‐annealed highly crosslinked UHMWPE cruciate‐retaining knee inserts under activities of daily living

Oludele O. Popoola Jian Q. Yao Todd S. Johnson Cheryl R. Blanchard

The wear, delamination, and fatigue resistance of artificially aged gamma irradiation‐sterilized conventional polyethylene (CPE) and gas‐plasma‐sterilized melt‐annealed highly crosslinked polyethylene tibial inserts (HXPE) were compared. Six CPE and 12 HXPE (six irradiated at 58 kGy and six at 72 kGy) left knee inserts were wear tested for 5.5 million cycles (Mc) under loads and motions that mimic activities of daily living, such as walking, chair rise, stair ascent, and deep squatting. Another six HXPE (72 kGy) and six CPE inserts were also tested under conditions that could produce severe delamination for 8 Mc. Ten other knees (five 72 kGy HXPE and five CPE) were subjected to posterior edge loading fatigue testing for 5 Mc. The HXPE inserts had an average wear rate reduction of about 80% relative to their CPE counterparts during all activities. All of the CPE inserts delaminated and fractured during high cycle deep squat (152° flexion) motions, while all the HXPE remained intact. None of the HXPE inserts delaminated after 8 Mc, while all of the CPE inserts developed delamination damage within 1.5–5.8 Mc of delamination testing. All CPE inserts developed subsurface cracks and delamination within 2.8 Mc during posterior edge loading fatigue studies, while none of the HXPE inserts showed cracking or delamination after 5 Mc. These results show that aged HXPE has higher wear and fatigue resistance than aged CPE, and offers potential long‐term advantages for young active patients with sustained activities of daily living.

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