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The wear of two orthopaedic biopolymers against each other

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tom Joyce


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The potential for all-polymer prostheses has not been widely investigated. It might be expected that the wear of such biomaterial combinations would be excessive, but an in vivo study of all polymer knee prostheses reported that there were no failures due to wear, even after ten years of clinical use. This design of knee prosthesis used polyacetal and ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) as the biopolymers. Similarly, an earlier in vitro study of polyacetal and UHMWPE hip prostheses indicated lower wear than for a cobalt chrome and UHMWPE combination. Therefore this study set out to test the polyacetal and UHMWPE combination in a wear screening rig which had previously been validated against clinical data for artificial hip joints. Two different motion conditions were applied to the test samples and each biopolymer was tested as both pin and plate. Interestingly it was found that, whatever the contribution from pin or plate, the total mean wear factors were 1.5 × 10-6mm3/Nm under reciprocation-only, and 4.1 × 10-6mm3/Nm under multi-directional motion. These wear factors were greater than those found when a conventional metal-on-UHMWPE couple was tested under the same loading, motion and lubricant conditions. A comparison was also undertaken with the wear of other orthopaedic biopolymer combinations, namely cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) against itself, and UHMWPE against itself. The XLPE pairing showed somewhat lower wear than the polyacetal and UHMWPE couple, while the UHMWPE pairing showed the highest wear of all, approximately an order of magnitude greater than the polyacetal and UHMWPE combination. © Società Italiana Biomateriali.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Joyce TJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Applied Biomaterials and Biomechanics

Year: 2005

Volume: 3

Issue: 3

Pages: 141-146

ISSN (print): 1722-6899

ISSN (electronic): 1724-6024

Publisher: Wichtig Editore Srl


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