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In vitro tests of substitute lubricants for wear testing orthopaedic biomaterials

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Susan Scholes, Professor Tom Joyce


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Bovine serum is the lubricant recommended by several international standards for the wear testing of orthopaedic biomaterials; however, there are issues over its use due to batch variation, degradation, cost and safety. For these reasons, alternative lubricants were investigated. A 50-station Super-CTPOD (circularly translating pin-on-disc) wear test rig was used, which applied multidirectional motion to ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene test pins rubbing against cobalt chromium discs. Thirteen possible alternative lubricants were tested. The use of soy protein as a lubricant gave statistically higher wear, while soya oil, olive oil, Channel Island milk, whole milk, whey, wheatgerm oil, 11 mg/mL egg white, albumin/globulin mix and albumin/globulin/chondroitin sulphate mix all gave statistically lower wear than bovine serum. The lubricants giving the closest wear results to bovine serum were 20 and 40 mg/mL egg white solutions. A light absorbance assay found that these egg white solutions suffered from a high degradation rate that increased with increasing protein content. While egg white solutions offer the best alternative lubricant to bovine serum due to the wear volumes produced, cost-effectiveness and safety of handling, protein degradation will still occur, leading to the need for regular lubricant replacement. Of the lubricants tested in this study, none were found to be superior to bovine serum.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scholes SC, Joyce TJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine

Year: 2013

Volume: 227

Issue: 6

Pages: 693-703

Print publication date: 09/04/2013

ISSN (print): 0954-4119

ISSN (electronic): 2041-3033

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0954411913481549


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