The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 27, Issue 1, 95 - 104

Knee Simulator Wear of Vitamin E Stabilized Irradiated Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene

Micheli, Brad R. et al.

Wear and damage of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) tibial inserts used in total knee arthroplasty are accelerated by oxidation. Radiation crosslinking reduces wear but produces residual free radicals adversely affecting stability. One alternative to stabilize radiation-crosslinked UHMWPE is to infuse the material with vitamin E (vit E). We investigated the properties of 100-kGy e-beam–irradiated UHMWPE that was subsequently doped with vitamin E in comparison with conventional UHMWPE. Both polymers were sterilized with gamma irradiation in vacuum packaging. Vitamin E–doped UHMWPE showed lower wear before and after aging (2.4 ± 0.5 and 2.5 ± 0.8 mg/million cycle, respectively, vs 26.9 ± 3.5 and 40.8 ± 3.0 mg/million cycle for conventional UHMWPE). Conventional UHMWPE showed oxidation after accelerated aging, and its mechanical properties were adversely affected, whereas vit E–doped UHMWPE showed no oxidation or changes in its mechanical properties. Vitamin E stabilization of radiation-crosslinked UHMWPE resulted in low wear and high oxidation resistance; it is an alternative load-bearing material for total knee applications.

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