© 2009 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 28:565–570, 2010

Computational assessment of the effect of polyethylene wear rate, mantle thickness, and porosity on the mechanical failure of the acetabular cement mantle

Oliver J. Coultrup Chris Hunt B. Michael Wroblewski Mark Taylor

Clinical studies have revealed that aseptic loosening is the dominant cause of failure in total hip arthroplasty, particularly for the acetabular component. For a cemented polyethylene cup, failure is generally accompanied by the formation of fibrous tissue at the cement–bone interface. A variety of reasons for the formation of this tissue have been suggested, including osteolysis and mechanical overload at the cement–bone interface. In this study, a computational cement damage accumulation method was used to investigate the effect of polyethylene cup penetration, cement mantle thickness, and cement porosity on the number of cycles required to achieve mechanical fatigue failure of the cement mantle. Cup penetration was found to increase cement mantle stresses, resulting in a reduction in cement mantle fatigue life of 9% to 11% for a high cup penetration rate. The effect of using a thin (2 mm) over a thick (4 mm) cement mantle also reduced cement mantle fatigue life between 9% and 11%, and greatly raised cancellous bone stresses. Cement porosity was found to have very little effect on cement mantle fatigue life. Failure modes and cement stresses involved suggest that only extreme combinations of a thin cement mantle and high cup penetration may lead to mechanical failure of the cement mantle, thereby allowing wear debris access to the cement–bone interface. A thin cement mantle may also lead to the mechanical overload of the cement–bone interface. In this manner, the authors suggest that the mechanical factors may contribute to the failure mode of cemented polyethylene cups.

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